Let freedom ring!Published 9:06pm Tuesday, July 2, 2013
America’s birthday party kicked off a few days early in Atmore as several Independence Day celebrations were held around town over the weekend prior to the first annual Festival on the Fourth to be hosted Thursday at Wind Creek Casino and Hotel.
First Assembly of God helped Atmore get into the patriotic spirit Sunday with their annual Celebration of Freedom service. The choir donned patriotic garb as they performed songs ranging from “Stars and Stripes Forever,” to “Let Freedom Ring” and “Hooray For the Red White and Blue.”
But Sunday’s service was also about honoring the men and women who have fought to preserve the freedom the Fourth of July has come to signify.
“There is a lot of blood on the flag and we appreciate those men that were willing to lay their lives on the line,” AOG Pastor Don Davis said.
Atmore Mayor Jim Staff was also on hand at Sunday’s service.
“Everyone thinks freedom is free, but it’s not,” Staff said. “I want to thank our veterans for what they have done. Our ancestors fled these other countries so we could be free and we’ve been fighting for that ever since.”
A portion of Sunday’s service was also set aside to honor each individual branch of the U.S. military and local soldiers who served America in various wars.
Those veterans honored with plaques of appreciation included: Staff Sgt. Keel H. Brown; Medical Technician Fifth Grade Sterling E. Fancher; Staff Sgt. Thomas Edward Hawkinson; Corporal Larry J. Jackson; Coxswain Alton Jackson; Sgt. Eddie R. Jeselink, Jr.; Chief Warrant Officer IV Lee V.E. Martin; Private First Class Willis McGhee; 1st Lt. Lee M. Otts; Corporal James E. Pipkin; Corporal E-4 Lawrence F. Vickery.
The party will continue Thursday afternoon and into the evening at the Wind Creek amphitheater during the first Festival on the Fourth event. The festivities will kick off at 4 p.m. and will include: Inflatable rides; hot dogs, popcorn and cotton candy; face painting by amy’s Awesome faces; giveaway drawings; music; a performance by the Pow Wow Dancers from the PCI Boys and Girls Club; and fireworks beginning at 9 p.m.
PCI Gaming Authority Public Relations Manager Lynn Woodcock said this is the first year for the program, but she believes it will not be the last. Woodcock said all activities are free and the first 250 children will receive a free t-shirt.
“We are thrilled to be having our Festival on the Fourth celebration this year. Our festival is ideal for families and people of all ages”, Tim Ramer, assistant property manager for Wind Creek Casino and Hotel said.
“We are excited to be giving the community a celebratory afternoon with free food and fun,” added Entertainment Center Director for PCI Gaming Authority Mark Vaughn.