Tuesday, July 04, 2006

America's Freedom Festival at Provo

It'a taken my parents-in-law living with us to reacquaint us with our home town. They have plunged in with both feet to learn about eateries and things to do here in Provo. We have taken some things for granted. They're helping make living here more fresh and exciting for us.

One of Provo's great traditions is America's Freedom Festival. I had to work late the last three days last week, so Jed went in my place with Cindy and my parents-in-law Friday night to the Freedom Awards Gala banquet where the Festival honored six individuals for their contributions to liberty and freedom in the world. Honorees included a survivor of the Bataan death march, the HQ USAF ACC commander, a man who has spent his life rescuing children from slavery in India, and a Green Beret who received the Distinguished Service Cross in for courage and bravery in Afghanistan.

On Saturday, after a traditional barbecue at my parents' house, catered by the producer, director, and crew of his recent DVD series, we attended Stadium of Fire (photo by my son Jed).

The event opened with the traditional F-16 flyover, with the pilot of the lead plane on camera in his cockpit emceeing the opening, welcoming the crowd, and listing the performers to the crowd's cheers. Headliners were hosts country music artist Keni Thomas and Miss USA 2005 Chelsea Cooley, the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute demonstration team, Raven (from Disney Channel's "That's So Raven") and the Family Faceoff Competition, a battle of the tribute bands (Queen, ABBA, and the Beach Boys -- guess who won?...), new American Idol Taylor Hicks, Lee Ann Womack, and a huge fireworks show (photo by my son Jed).

Sunday evening, we attended the traditional Patriotic Service at UVSC. A couple of Freedom Award honorees were introduced, and videos of their stories shown. The Festival's youth speech award winner ("Independence Forever") gave his speech. The Festival band played each of the service songs, and members who've served in each of the armed services stood with their families (it was fun to stand with my father-in-law and the fam during "Off We Go"). And Dr. Stephen R. Covey spoke about "Becoming a Patriotic Trim-Tabber." To cap off the evening, the band played Sousa's traditional Stars and Stripes Forever.

Last night we attended Freedom Days in downtown Provo -- lots of merchandise and food vendors, a carnival, and bluegrass and other great music under a tent. We heard Cold Creek, the Sam Payne Project (listen to "Spaceman"), and Peter Breinholt.

Today it's the early morning Balloon Fest hot air balloon launch (photos by my daughter Caroline) . . .

. . . and then the Grand Parade (photos by my daughter Caroline).

After the parade, we're going to Seven Peaks Water Park for a fried chicken picnic and fun.

No better way to do the 4th in the USA!


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