This story was co-written with my intrepid co-worker George Lang. It also appears in Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Setting off July 4 with a big, bold bang
Oklahoma communities are planning musical performances, family activities and lots of fireworks for Independence Day.
The United States’ big 236th birthday might be taking place in the middle of the week this year, but Oklahoma will make Independence Day feel like the weekend with patriotic parades, family fun and fireworks rocketing skyward.
Leading the local festivities is Red, White and Boom!, the annual fireworks-and-music blowout headlined by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. This year, Elk City native and 1981 Miss America Susan Powell joins the philharmonic, conducted by maestro Joel Levine, to perform an eclectic program featuring patriotic favorites such as “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “America” and “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Broadway songs. The concert begins at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at State Fair Park, followed by fireworks at 10 p.m. Admission is free. Information: www.okcphilharmonic.org.
And the all-American entertainment continues Tuesday as the Oklahoma City RedHawks take on the Memphis Redbirds at 7:05 p.m. at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, 2 S Mickey Mantle Drive. Fireworks will light up the sky over the ballpark at about 10 p.m., following the game. Information: Ö www.oklahomaredhawks.com.
The inaugural SandRidge Energy Stars & Stripes River Festival will launch from 9 a.m. to dusk Saturday in Oklahoma City’s Boathouse District. The July 4-theme event will feature an array of free family activities such as face painting, sack races and bean bag toss, along with music from DJ Jon Mooneyham, Denver Duncan, At Long Last and Brian Dunning and the Rock N’ Roll Trio. The event includes the RiverSport Challenge run/kayak race, corporate rowing and dragon boat league racing and Olympic Day activities. Evening fireworks cap the event. Parking and admission are free. Information: www.OklahomaRiverEvents.org.
Edmond’s annual LibertyFest is a weeklong celebration of Americana and family-friendly activities. While the past week of LibertyFest included a car show, a kite-flying event and a patriotic performance by the UCO Summer Band, the crowning glory of the festival comes at 9 a.m. Wednesday as the LibertyFest Parade, a 1.5-mile cavalcade of bands, floats and marching groups, winds its way through downtown Edmond. At 6:30 p.m., the University of Central Oklahoma is the location for an evening of food, music, rides and games, followed by a fireworks display at sundown. Information: www.libertyfest.org.
One of the longest-running and most enthusiastic festivals in the area is under way in
Bethany with the Freedom Festival. This event, in its 54th year, begins with pony rides, inflatable bouncing, carnival rides and games at Eldon Lyon Park, NW 39th between Council and Rockwell. On Wednesday, the parade begins at 10 a.m., the annual car show runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and the fireworks display, one of the state’s largest pyrotechnics events, begins at 9:55 p.m. Information: www.cityofbethany.org.
The center for family fun at Yukon’s Freedom Fest is Yukon City Park at 2200 S Holly, with concerts taking place at Chisholm Trail Park, 500 W Vandament. Festivities begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday with “A Tribute to Veterans,” featuring Mike Black and the Stingrays, and a patriotic brass band performance at 7:45 p.m. by Irv Wagner’s Concert Band, followed by fireworks at 10 p.m. Beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday, Freedom Fest rolls out the annual “Cherry Bomb Triathlon,” a car show, a children’s parade, a “best decorated bicycle” contest for kids, a sand volleyball tournament and a hot dog eating contest. Also included are performances by the Roland Bowling Band and Mike Black and the Stingrays. Freedom Fest culminates with a 5 p.m. concert by Superfreak, followed by an 8:30 p.m. patriotic concert by the Oklahoma City Philharmonic with Powell and fireworks. Information: www.cityofyukonok.gov.
Norman’s 37th Annual Norman Day Celebration on Wednesday is a unique kind of patriotic party. Norman Day, which takes place beginning at 4:30 p.m. at Reaves Park, 2501 Jenkins, features inflatable games, pony rides and baby crawl races, followed by performances from John Arnold Band at 5 p.m., Banana Seat at 7:30 p.m. and fireworks at 9:45 p.m. Information: www.ci.norman.ok.us.
Moore hosts its 18th Annual Art in the Park: A Celebration in the Heartland, featuring live entertainment with crafts, food, carnival rides, car show and children’s activities, from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday. Musical performances include Johnny Lee at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Bad Monkey at 7 p.m. Wednesday, followed by fireworks. Information: www.cityofmoore.com.
Midwest City‘s annual Tribute to Liberty event features live music from Hook at 6 p.m. Wednesday, followed by fireworks, at Joe B. Barnes Regional Park, near Reno and Midwest Boulevard. Information: http://midwestcityok.org.
For a do-it-yourself celebration, head to Wild Horse Park at 1201 N Mustang Road. It is legal to light fireworks in Mustang through Wednesday, and residents will line the outskirts of the park at dusk Saturday to light rockets. Alcohol is prohibited. Information: 376-3411.
Bulls will provide the booms at the Guthrie Cowboy Church Bull Bash, a bull-riding fundraiser benefitting the church’s youth group. Top-notch bull-riding talent and bucking bovines are expected to participate in the event, starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Tyler Blount Memorial Arena, 234 Fairgrounds Road. Information: (580) 370-6541.
In conjunction with Pauls Valley’s July 4 festivities and fireworks show, the community’s famed Watermelon Seed Spittin’ World Championship is set for 5 p.m. Wednesday at Thompson Field in Wacker Park. The event has been immortalized in the original edition of “Trivial Pursuit,” “The Guinness Book of World Records” and “Ripley’s Believe It or Not.” The celebration also will include a cookout, live music and fireworks. Information: www.mainstreetpaulsvalley.com
Up-and-coming country singer Kylie Morgan, 16, who appears in the upcoming E! reality show “Opening Act,” will perform a hometown concert at Newcastle’s Independence Celebration at 6 p.m. Saturday at Veterans Park, Tenth and Veterans Parkway. The celebration also will include live music from Nicnos, Lower 40 and Kalamity Jane as well as inflatables, food and fireworks. Information: www.newcastleok.org.
Country music superstar Alan Jackson will headline the Fort Sill Independence Day Celebration with his Saturday stop on the 2012 Army Concert Tour. The 6 p.m. Saturday show on the Polo Field also will feature Easton Corbin and Gloriana. The concert is open to the public. Tickets and information: www.sillmwr.com.
Kix Brooks, formerly of superstar country duo Brooks & Dunn, along with Oklahoma musicians Shawna Russell, LiveWire, Flat River Band and the Red Dirt Rangers, will perform at Drumright’s Summer Oil Patch Festival Wednesday at the Sellers Ranch north of Drumright. The free, family-friendly concert will feature a children’s fair area, entertainers such as skydivers and magicians and a huge fireworks display at dusk. Gates open at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Information: (918) 352-2443.
The state’s bluesiest Independence Day celebration will be in Tulsa. Blues, Brews, and BBQ begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday with live music by 15 performers continuing through 2 a.m. Wednesday at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, 111 E First Street. Information: www.okjazz.org.
Tulsa FreedomFest will include a wide variety of live music, family activities, a bicycle parade, a street dance party and more all day Wednesday at River West Festival Park, Veterans Park, Blue Rose Café/Elwood’s and 31 and Riverside. Information: www.riverparks.org.
Stillwater’s Boomer Blast will feature live entertainment, inflatables, wakeboard and wake-skate competitions and a fireworks show at dusk Wednesday at Boomer Lake Park. Information: http://stillwater.org.
In Durant, Choctaw Casino Resort, 4418 Highway 69/75, is planning a fireworks show Wednesday night, along with a series of special live performances from Wednesday-July 7, including a concert by country music superstar Randy Travis and a sold-out show by comedian Jeff Dunham. Information: www.ChoctawCasinos.com.