Wednesday, June 26, 2013

TOP STORY >> Area gearing up for July 4th celebrations

Leader staff writer

Local cities are firing up for Fourth of July celebrations next week.

The Jacksonville Museum of Military History and Sherwood are sharing an act, the Army’s Adventure Simulators.

Curious about what it is like to drive a tank or to fly a helicopter?

Residents will have the opportunity to find out on Thursday and Friday, July 4-5.

The Army group will offer free simulators for driving a M1A1 Abrams tank, flying an Apache helicopter, a timed shooting event with a marksmanship trainer and a bomb squad exercise using an electronic ordnance disposal robotic arm from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at the museum, 100 Veterans Circle.

There is no charge for admission to the museum that day.

The group will be also be stopping by Sherwood’s event from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Sherwood Forest, 1111 W. Maryland Ave., in a 70-by-25-foot semi truck.

Events coordinator Sarah Coulter said, “We’re pretty excited that is something new at the event.”

Sherwood Mayor Virginia Hillman said the city is expecting a better turnout at its annual celebration this year compared to last year, when the drought and a burn ban canceled the planned fireworks display.

Aside from the simulators, another new attraction planned for the city’s event is a Kid Zone with a bounce house.

Alderman Marina Brooks, chairwoman of the Advertising and Promotion Commission, said, “It will just be a family fun-filled evening. This year we are hoping to do better than ever before.”

The annual budget for the event is $15,000.

The city will provide free hot dogs, water, chips and giveaways while supplies last.

The Sherwood Sharks swim team will be selling additional items.

Entertainment will include Patriotic Pamy, Paul Morphis, Fragile Elite and Top of the Rock Chorus.

Top of the Rock will be inside the building while the other musical acts will be outside on a second stage.

Fireworks begin at 9 p.m.

Coulter added that shuttles would be available from Sylvan Hills High School.

Cabot is planning a Fourth of July celebration starting at 6 p.m at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, 163 Mount Carmel Road.

There will be patriotic music.

Hot dogs, chips and drinks will be for sale.

A bounce house, slides and an obstacle course will be set up for children. Fireworks begin at 9 p.m.

Jacksonville will not have its Patriotic Spectacular this year.

Mayor Gary Fletcher said organizer Angie Mitchell did not apply for funding through the Advertising and Promotion Commission.

“I don’t know if it will happen next year. I’m not saying it won’t. Sometimes it’s hard to compete with the fireworks in Little Rock,” he noted.

The A&P Commission will look at funding requests at the end of the year. Someone may or may not step forward to ask for the money to have the Patriotic  Spectacular in 2014, the mayor explained. It’s too early to tell, he said.

Beebe will host a Fourth of July celebration beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Beebe City Park baseball fields with a fireworks show at dusk. 

The evening will feature two musical performances by Sonny Burgess and the Legendary Pacers and Wine and Roses.

Free hot dogs, hamburgers, ice cream, water and slush puppies will be served.

Face painting and temporary tattoos will also be offered.

The swimming pool will be open at no charge and lifeguards will be on duty.

Ward’s annual Fourth of July celebration starts at 4:30 p.m. when the vendors open for business and the car and motorcycle show begins.

The opening ceremony at 5 p.m. will feature the Little Rock Air Force base honor guard almost immediately followed by what can be loosely described as a tractor pull.

There are no big farm tractors in the competition. Instead, contestants drive lawn mowers and lawn tractors.

Mayor Art Brooke, last year’s winner, brags that he will carry the title home again this year.

The River Rats, a bluegrass band from Mountain View, will perform until 8:30 p.m. following the opening ceremony.

Vendors will have funnel cakes and fresh-squeezed lemonade for sale but the city will give away hamburgers and bottled water.

Dancers from Carla’s Dance of Ward will perform at 6:30 p.m. and the firework show will start at 9:15 or dark.

South Bend Fire Rescue will have a fireworks show at 4144   Hwy. 294, Military Road, on Thursday, July 4, beginning with a 6:30 p.m. supper.

Sonny’s Auto Salvage is sponsoring the event.

Austin does not have an Independence Day celebration but residents are allowed to shoot their own fireworks on July 3 until 10 p.m. and on July 4 until 11 p.m.

Lonoke doesn’t have a celebration, but dealers are allowed to sell fireworks from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. July 2-4. Residents are allowed to shoot fireworks from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. July 2 and 3 and from 10 a.m. until midnight July 4.