Mother Nature decided to cooperate with Fort Oglethorpe’s Independence Day plans this year and withheld the rain she’d been letting loose most days for the past couple of weeks.
On July 3, the Polo grounds on Barnhardt Circle swelled with patriotic citizens coming together for fun, food, music, and red, white and blue fellowship.
Events started early in the day this year, with chalk art on the street. Vendors set up selling everything from Italian water ice, barbecue and cotton candy to snap jewelry, ice cream sundae candles and Rockabilly hair accessories.
There was face painting and inflatables for the kids, live music and a sing-along with the Tabernacle Big Band, and a “Most Patriotic Boy and Girl” contest to award the most patriotically dressed children. Battlefield Community Seventh Day Adventist Church held a drawing in which they gave away two bicycles – one for boys and one for girls.
A number of community and civic groups were set up at the event working to raise funds for special projects. The Fort Oglethorpe Thriving Communities team ran a food concession, the Veterans Honor Park Committee and the Bark City Dog Park Committee both had booths displaying commemorative stones and pavers available to be engraved with the names of loved ones or pets, and the Chattanooga Valley Lions Club was selling pork rinds to raise funds.
CHI Memorial Hospital offered shuttle service for those who had to park a distance from the festivities. Fort Oglethorpe police officers strolled the grounds meeting attendees and keeping the event safe, and the Fort Oglethorpe Fire Department stood at the ready when it was time for the grand finale of the night – the fireworks display.
“Our fireworks were better than ever this year,” says Chris McKeever, coordinator of the event and director of the Sixth Cavalry Museum. “Atlanta Pyrotechnics out of Marietta did our fireworks for us.”
McKeever is also the secretary for the Fort Oglethorpe Tourism Association, which is charged with planning Patriotism at the Post each year. “We find sponsors to help pay for the fireworks and the $5 fee we charge for parking on the polo field helps, too,” says McKeever.
When all was done, the fireworks played out, the trumpets and flutes and drums back in their cases, the lawn chairs folded up, the children weary from play, and folks marching back to their cars in the dark, it can be safely said it was a good night for everyone.