It was standing room only at the July 3 Patriotism at the Post event in Fort Oglethorpe Wednesday night, July 3.

Vendor lines, especially for cotton candy, stretched across the field that was home to this year's concert and fireworks show organized by the city's tourism association.

Small and large hands held big glowing columns of pink sugar throughout the crowd thanks to a cotton candymaker named LaDonna of Donna's Cotton Candy in Rocky Face, Ga.

The vendor said she had sold about a hundred of the sugary treat. "Some are small and in bags and some are on glow sticks," she said.

Ashley Harris, one mom with a bag of cotton candy in one hand and a tall glow stick of the pink sweet in another, was waiting on one more glow stick-covered one. Harris said: "I knew if I didn't get a second one (of the tall variety) they would fight over the glow stick."

Gemma Bowen, 7, seemed impervious to the concert

going on as she carefully navigated the crowd carrying her glowing pink cotton candy on a stick.

Katie Ellington, 12, from Lakeview Middle School, was content to eat her pink sugar-filled treat from the comfort of a chair at the Lion's Club pork rind vendor tent, where her mom was busy serving others.

The historic Barnhardt Circle was the perfect venue for the 13th annual event, emphasizing the historic homes that line the perimeter of the field, like the home of Virginia Black, now in her 90s; and, the home of the Morris family (no relation), whose pink-colored home was decked out in full July Fourth regalia.

Even the Morris family got into the celebration, decorating themselves in one way or another in deference to Abe Lincoln. There were tall Abe Lincoln hats and lots of Abe Lincoln t-shirts.

When asked what their routine was for Independence Day, Mrs. Morris, the lady of the manor, said: "We sit out back and grill. We've got a pool. Everybody swims as much as they want to, then we come out here (on the historic home's veranda that faces the Patriotism at the Post field event) and we walk back and forth and watch the fireworks."

Tyler Horn, an attendee of the celebration held at Virginia Black's home right next door to the Morris', said that when it comes to Independence Day he thinks of "freedom, basically."

"I believe in freedom and independence. I have friends who have served (in the military), so it means a lot to me. And I appreciate them for their service. It's a good day to remember them because they do fight for us."

Susie Alvarez, another attendee at the Black home, pointed out that her host's home has been written about in the past due to its historical significance "and because it's haunted," she added.

But, Alvarez, like Horn, turned more serious when thinking about the Independence Day celebration, stating that the day makes her "emotional."

"It's an emotional day. It's a time to reflect; a time to appreciate what we have. There's some that are just not as fortunate," she reminded.

"My dad and I both served," Alvarez said, "So, there again, the military is very special to me."

Susie and her father both served in the Army.

Emily Black, the granddaughter of the historic home owner located on the perimeter of the celebratory field this year said that the house was a hospital at one time during the war and "they actually still have some of the original cabinets and stuff (in the home)."

"It's quite cool. They still have an old phone in there, too, but it doesn't work," she said.

Not everyone at the Thursday night event came just to have fun, watch fireworks or eat pork rinds, cotton candy or sip on crushed ice drinks. Anita and Danny Gaddy enjoyed the festival while also admiring landmarks, like the one that honors the past female contributors to the military park's history.

We caught up to them there.

"I volunteer out at the military park," Danny said, "The one that's army corp."

"It's great that all of this has been preserved," his wife Anita said, pointing to the granite slab beneath the large gazebo on the grounds. It's words illegible in the darkening night but come morning it would remind of past contributions by females during military battle.

"We live just down the way in Ringgold; but, we came out to participate," Anita added.

Other participants on hand included chalk artists, like Ava Bulmer, 9, and her older sister Hannah Bulmer, 11. Ava attends Boynton Elementary School in Ringgold and Hannah will be at Heritage next year her mother Katie Bulmer said.

And, maybe one of the most entertaining attendees was Gale Anders, a Walker resident who moved to Catoosa in 2004. Anders is originally from upstate New York, where she moved from to Walker County in 1989.

According to Anders — who was dressed from head-to-toe in red, white, and blue — this was "my first time helping out, and I've been having a blast."

Anders said she "hopes she is spreading love and peace," at the event and she had just finished helping Bonnie out with the band by carrying around the red bucket for attendees to make donations to the band if they wanted to do so.

"Would you like to donate to the band?" she asked with a smile.

Jan Morris is assistant editor for the Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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