By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Thousands of Northeast Mississippians waved American flags and danced to pop and patriotic music Wednesday as the city celebrated the Fourth of July with its 26th annual All American Picnic in Ballard Park.
Fireworks highlighted the evening’s gathering as traffic crawled along West Main Street to see the crowd, Tupelo Symphony Orchestra and hundreds of small children wearing or playing with battery-powered, lighted necklaces, hats and sabers.
Families, couples and singles spent the evening eating midway food and lounging under small tents, on blankets or lawn chairs.
Dennis Carlisle, commander of American Legion Post 49 was de facto greeter as he handed out some 2,000 American-made U.S. flags.
“It’s our eighth year to give away the flags, and I won’t leave until we handed all of them out,” he remarked earnestly as he reached for another bundle about 6 p.m.
The event featured country and rock bands before the symphony took the stage with the community chorus. Voices rang out with patriotic songs and couples danced to period classics.
But before it got dark, Addison Howell celebrated her fourth birthday as her mother, Beth Howell of Tupelo, looked on at the red, white and blue-attired child enjoying the stomach-wrenching fun of a bungee-cord ride.
Addison said she’d gotten a pink bicycle, her first, as her birthday present.
Just down the food aisle, Dana Hogue of Pontotoc assisted three of her grandchildren with much-needed lemonades on a very hot day, despite an early afternoon shower.
Hogue said it was her fourth time to attend the picnic and the music and fireworks kept her coming back.
The family-style event featured scores of couples with children in strollers, Tupelo businessman Frank Anger’s star-studded hot air balloon, inflatables for sliding on, plus aromatic midway-style food.
Addison Howell held on tightly to her sticky pink cotton candy as her mother and aunt Luanne Butler of Booneville wrapped up a very special girls’ day out.