26th Annual Independence Day Celebration

Tom Sellers, president of Alliance Bank, welcomes concert goers at the start of the 2016 concert. Alliance Bank has sponsored the concert since the beginning.
Tom Sellers, president of Alliance Bank, welcomes concert goers at the start of the 2016 concert. Alliance Bank has sponsored the concert since the beginning.

Saturday, July 1 will mark the 26th Annual Independence Day Celebration, organized by the Sulphur Springs Symphony League, on the square in downtown Sulphur Springs.  The program begins at 7:45 p.m., but the fun starts even earlier.

Downtown restaurants will be open for dinner and several will have concessions available on the square.  Concert goers may wish to arrive early for good parking, great food, and the best location for their blanket or lawn chairs.

As always, the Northeast Texas Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Dr. Doug Bakenhus, will entertain the crowd with patriotic tunes as well as a few surprises.  The professional orchestra will be followed by a professional fireworks display.

Dr. Doug Bakenhus and the Northeast Texas Symphony Orchestra entertain the crowd at the 2016 Independence Day Celebration.
Dr. Doug Bakenhus and the Northeast Texas Symphony Orchestra entertain the crowd at the 2016 Independence Day Celebration.

As was the case last year, the fireworks vendor will use the corner of Jefferson and Rosemont as the staging area.  The public will not be allowed to be near that area, so please plan a different travel path to Celebration Plaza.  Sadly, last year, individuals felt compelled to ignore the police and city employees who directed them to go around the barriers.  Instead folks breached the perimeter, which caused the vendor, due to safety concerns, to have to inform the Symphony League that they could not start the fireworks show until the crowd removed themselves from the area.

For those who don’t know, this concert is free to attend and free to the city.  It costs about $30,000 to $40,000 to put on each year.  The all-volunteer Sulphur Springs Symphony League, which is made up of about 12 local citizens, raises the money each year for this performance as well as the Children’s Concert and other philanthropic projects.  Although the city does assist with planning and execution, this is not a project of the city.

Fireworks from the 2016 show.
Fireworks from the 2016 show.

As always, chairs in front of the stage are provided for veterans and their spouses.

Anyone who attends this concert or realizes what it would cost our city to put on such a magnificent show each year, should be very appreciative of the Sulphur Springs Symphony League.  These folks go above and beyond with their civic duty to bring such high-caliber patriotic celebration to us.  They are each sincerely appreciated!

Now let’s talk a little housekeeping.  Following the concert last year, I saw a few complaints on Facebook about the visibility of the fireworks.  Following a year of discussion between the professional, licensed fireworks vendor, the Symphony League and the City, the only feasible location was identified and used.   Here are some of the factors that come into play:

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1.  Following the construction of the new jail, the old fireworks staging area was no longer viable.  It is against the law to shoot fireworks that close to a jail, hospital, nursing home, etc.

2.  The topography of the square and surrounding area creates challenges.  Several open spaces are actually lower than the square, which makes them useless.  Mix in the fact that really tall buildings hide the fireworks, and it is almost impossible to find a good location.

3.  Because of proximity of buildings, the fireworks vendor must use smaller shells.  Smaller shells don’t go as high in the air.

4.  The Symphony League has held the concert on the square for twenty-five years.  They continue to feel like that is the appropriate venue for such a patriotic and community  event.  Due to all the buildings, visibility will be hampered from certain seating areas.

Those unable to see the fireworks show should move their lawn chairs to a better viewing area.    Keep in mind, the same fireworks staging area used last year will be used this year.

It is sure to be a wonderful evening full of community pride and patriotism.  Thank you once again to the Sulphur Springs Symphony League volunteers and donors who bring such first-class program to our community.  This is one of those signature events that makes Sulphur Springs so unique!

Fireworks from the 2016 show.
Fireworks from the 2016 show.

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