Fireworks, concert set for city’s July 4th

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 17, 2002

[06/16/02]After seven years without a public Fourth of July celebration, Vicksburg will observe Independence Day this year with a free concert and fireworks display in downtown.

Festivities will kick off with a free program featuring the Kaiso Steele Drum Band at 7 p.m. followed by a “pops” style concert at 8 p.m. with the University of Southern Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and chorus.

The concert will feature Guy Hovis, formerly of the “Lawrence Welk Show,” and soloists Maryann Kyle and Heather Allen. Fireworks will begin around 9 p.m. and be synchronized to the music of The 1812 Overture.

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“It’s a date that we should all recognize,” event coordinator Frances Koury said. “After Sept. 11, I really feel that we need to remember our heritage.”

Sept. 11 is when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., killing about 3,000 people.

Planning for the Vicksburg concert and display began nearly two years ago, but took off after Mayor Laurence Leyens took office nearly a year ago, Koury said. Leyens had wanted to put on a show last year, days after the inauguration, but did not have enough time.

Although Warren County and Vicksburg have sporadically allocated cash for Independence Day events since the Bicentennial Celebration in 1976, there has not been an organized fireworks display since 1995 when Harrah’s Casino sponsored a show.

Former administrations have said that it cost too much, but Leyens said the $10,000 the city will contribute is worth it.

“I can’t think of a better opportunity to bring the whole community together for a common cause,” Leyens said.

Ameristar Casino and Coca-Cola are also major sponsors of this year’s celebration.

Independence Day celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The document declared the 13 colonies’ revolt against English rule. The Fourth of July is also remembered in Vicksburg as the date in 1863 in which Confederate forces surrendered to Union troops, ending the 47-day Civil War siege of the city.

“This is the first time Vicksburg will ever celebrate (the Fourth of July) with such fanfare,” said Rosalie Theobald, director of Main Street, which donated $500.

The celebration will take place in downtown Vicksburg with fireworks being shot off barges in the Yazoo Diversion Canal.

Bleachers for the concert and display will be along Washington Street between Grove and Jackson streets.

Souvenirs, food and drinks will be available and Main Street is selling T-shirts at area businesses.

Koury said she is making plans to make the celebration an annual event.