July 3, 2014 --
Freedom, family and fireworks were the focus for about 10,000-12,000 spectators Friday as they took part in Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s annual Independence Day Celebration, here.
Edie Stratis, marketing, Marine Corps Community Services, MCLB Albany, and coordinator of the event for 15 years, said the purpose of the event is to celebrate the day the U.S. became a free and independent nation and to thank those who serve and protect freedom.
Stratis, who began planning the celebration in February, said several changes were made from past years to enhance the spectators’ experience to include spreading out the vendors to provide a larger seating area, adding water slides to help combat the heat and having two local bands perform.
Thousands arrived early at Boyett Park, before the fireworks display, to claim their place on the lawn. While waiting for the after-dark grand finale, attendees spent time with their families and friends listening to live music.
Unbreakable Bloodline opened the celebration playing a mix of hip-hop, rock, reggae and jazz; while Barb Wired played a mixture of rock and blues leading up to the fireworks show.
In addition to the music, dozens of activities kept children entertained.
Parents and guardians accompanied children standing in line waiting for a chance to get their face painted as well as play on several inflatable bouncies and waterslides.
The celebration also featured a military vehicle display and two military working dog demonstrations. Several food and drink vendors lined Boyett Park selling everything from funnel cakes and corndogs to pizza and homemade ice cream. Many purchased ice-cold beverages to cool themselves from the Southwest Georgia heat.
As the sun began to fade, Barb Wired played their last song for the night as people settled in their lawn chairs and blankets for the traditional half-hour fireworks show.
With the sun setting and small children near their parents, the first of many fireworks shot into the air. Oohs, ahhs and wows echoed from adults and children alike as the fireworks lit up the night sky creating a burst of color over Covella Pond.
For the grand finale, a barrage of fireworks shot into the air signifying the end of the annual celebration, while spectators cheered and applauded as they headed to the main gate to exit the base.
Sgt. Timothy Forness, ammunition technician, Logistics Support Division, MCLB Albany, said “it feels good to have the celebration on base again.”
The 2013 Independence Day celebration was canceled due to federal budget cuts.
Forness, who served in Afghanistan, said the celebration shows that people appreciate their country and the Marines and Sailors who serve.
“It gives the civilians a chance to come out here and see what we do and where we work,” he said. “We are always giving back to the community and supporting our country, our civilian-Marines and the people that provide for us.”
Brenda Dorminey, from Albany, Georgia, said this is her first time celebrating Independence Day at the base with her son.
Having the celebration at the base a week prior to July 4 has its advantages, she said.
“(This event) gives people a chance to celebrate with the servicemen and women,” she said. “(It is good) to be with them so that they know we appreciate them instead of them just assuming. Next weekend (we) can celebrate with (our) family.”
According to Dorminey, Independence Day is a time to celebrate and honor all who serve the nation.
Dorminey continued, “It makes me feel a lot safer having the base nearby and it makes me feel proud to be from here to where I can say I am right next to it.”
To those who serve and have served, Dorminey said, “Thanks for your service, we appreciate it. We would not be able to live the way we do without you.”