Friday, July 06, 2007

Our all-out everything 4th of July

Our law firm was a sponsor for this year's America's Freedom Festival at Provo. (We've been pro bono legal counsel to the Festival since 1996). So we got some comp and discount tickets as part of the bargain.

We started the festivities off at the Freedom Awards Gala. We had the good fortune of sitting at a table with Wayne Baruch and Chuck Gayton, producers of the Stadium of Fire show the past three years. Fine gentlemen. Honorees at the Gala included Bert Brady, who has spent 300 days a year greeting troops coming home through DFW Airport for a couple of weeks of R&R from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Then we attended the Patriotic Service at UVSC. The highlight for me is the playing of the service songs (sung this year by the barbershop choir, The Saltairs) -- and standing for the Air Force song -- and the traditional Stars and Stripes forever played by the Freedom Festival Band at the end of the program.

We also attended Freedom Days on Center Street in Provo. Great ethnic food. And free performances celebrating our cultural diversity.

Then, on the 4th, we got up early and watched the Balloon Fest balloon launch at Fox Field.

Then we had grandstand seats for the Grand Parade. Our firm had an entry -- a 1955 Chevy Belair Convertible driven by owner Fernando R. Gomez.

After the parade, we spent the rest of the day at Seven Peaks Water Park. We rented a cabana and had a bunch of family join us for KFC, watermelon, and lots of snacks.

Then Caroline and I went to the pre-show reception at the Cougar Room at Lavell Edwards Stadium. We met with show producer Wayne Baruch who introduced us to Corbin Bleu's manager, and Caroline got to shake hands with Corbin (while Wayne kindly held her food plate). We also saw Dick Nourse and Nadine Wimmer from KSL 5 Eyewitness News (and their families), Grant Nielsen (and his family) from Utah's Morning News with Grant & Amanda on KSL Radio, Jaden Bliss (one of the Freedom Award honorees) and her family, Bo Craig (Freedom Festival President), Governor Huntsman, Hal Wing (of Little Giant Ladder fame), and Brooks & Dunn (the headline performers), as well as several of my law partners and their wives.

We returned to my parents' home for a few minutes before the show. My brother-in-law Mark was doing the cooking at the barbecue.

Governor Huntsman's group, Politically Incorrect, opened the Stadium of Fire pre-show with some classic rock standards (with the Governor in shades on playing keyboards).

The traditional F-16 flyover included two brothers who had attended Stadium of Fire as boys and dreamed of participating in the flyover. One of the members of the squadron was commissioned in the Air Force by my father-in-law.

The colors were delivered to the field by a group of skydivers.

Hundreds (thousands?) of cheerleaders and dozens of dancers opened the show.

Members of Gold Star families (those who have lost a loved one in Afghanistan or Iraq -- they were the Grand Marshalls of the parade) sang the national anthem.

Glenn Beck emceed, and Fred Willard stole the show with humorous bits throughout.

Corbin Bleu did a fine job.

Brooks & Dunn put on a fabulous full concert.

And the fireworks at the end were over the top.

An amazing Fourth. No better place to celebrate it in America than right here.


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