Thousands Pack Tom Brown Park for Annual ‘Celebrate America’
By James Celeste
Fourth of July celebrations took over Tom Brown Park Saturday night, as tens of thousands came out to celebrate Independence Day. With cloudy skies and a few weather delays, the show went on as Mother Nature allowed a spectacular showcase of colors and lights that took over the night skies.
“We had a little weather delay, but that couldn’t stop us from bringing the community together to enjoy Independence Day with friends and family,” said Jan Bubsey, the event coordinator of Celebrate America.
Now in its 30th year, Celebrate America has been Tallahassee’s Fourth of July tradition since 1985 and has grown from a small home-town festivity to become one of the city’s top major events.
Blankets, towels and lawn chairs filled the whole valley of grass as the attention turned to the wonderful live entertainment set up by the event organizers.
The event showcased great musicians that centered the stage with Tallahassee favorites Jacob’s Ladder, the Flip Flop Boys and Acme Rhythm & Blues. The sound of the drums and the guitars set great vibes for a great night.
Many attendees dressed in American flag t-shirts or patriotic colors, and footballs – the American kind – could be seen spiraling up and above the crowd before sunset.
Vendors served up their tastiest dishes, which could be washed down with local drinks, and arts and crafts were sold throughout the event.
One thing that sets this Fourth of July apart from others is the Naturalization Ceremony. Eleven people from 9 countries read their oaths and were sworn in to become United States citizens. It was a truly patriotic and moving event that made many folks proud to be an American
“This is the premier nation that represents freedom all around the world and we do this once a year to celebrate that we have our own independence,” former Tallahassee police chief Walt McNeil said. “We are a nation that understands the rule of law and what it means to be a free world and free nation.”
City commissioner Gil Ziffer said Independence Day reminds him that he lives in the greatest country on Earth.
“It’s a great country to be in,” Ziffer said. “This celebration gives Tallahassee, and everyone who lives here no matter what your background is, no matter what your income level is or whatever your color is – it’s for all of us to come together and enjoy the birth of this country.”