A star-spangled revue of celebration and activities marking the United States’ 233rd anniversary of independence lights up the calendar across Northeast Mississippi this week, with picnics, fireworks, patriotic music and heritage commemorations in some form in almost every community.
Some places in the Deep South did not pay much attention to July 4 for a long time because in 1863, on July 3 and July 4, the battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg proved decisive in the Union’s ultimate Civil War victory. As long as Civil War memories and sentiments stayed strong, Independence Day was almost an afterthought.
The American bicentennial in 1976, a spectacular event from coast to coast, revived Independence Day observances across the South, including fully desegregated crowds.
That celebratory flame has not stopped burning, and community observances have become unifiers and points of pride.
One of the largest regional observances takes place in Tupelo’s Ballard Park, a sprawling complex of picnic areas, walking trails, athletic fields, and performance venues in west Tupelo. Ripley, Oxford, Corinth and the historic Jacinto Courthouse also have special celebrations. The Jacinto event always features a political speaking, an enduring tradition in which candidates, rumored candidates and officeholders stand face-to-face with the people, offering rhetoric in behalf of themselves and their causes.
The Tupelo Symphony Orchestra caps a day of beach-themed fun and an evening of entertainment at Ballard Park, with traditional and rousing patriotic music always brining the crowd to its feet.
A 100-member volunteer chorus joins the TSO for part of the program, and participation is open to all who commit to rehearsing with the orchestra on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Registration is preferred before the rehearsal.
TSO executive director Margaret Anne Murphey said Sunday singers are needed, with no requirement of being able to read music. Murphey, herself a longtime participant in the choral portion of the program, encourages everyone with an interest to call (662) 842-8433 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (Brian Eads, who conducts the chorus) or email@example.com.
Before the music begins with bands and soloists at 4:30 p.m., the park will be decorated with a beach theme, including water effects, and children’s inflatables.
The climax of the day is a fireworks display starting at 9:30 p.m. On clear nights it can be seen for several miles above the parks trees and hills.
NEMS Daily Journal