Three fireworks options hosted by area communities for Independence Day

Darrell Todd Maurina

FORT LEONARD WOOD/WAYNESVILLE/RICHLAND, Mo. (June 30, 2009) — Fireworks have been associated with Independence Day celebrations for more than a century, and at least three large shows are planned this year to celebrate the event locally.

The area’s largest show is at Fort Leonard Wood, which relaxes its regulations for visitors on July 4 for those who want to attend the evening fireworks event or the annual Soldier Show which will be held before the fireworks.

Most people who do not have Department of Defense military ID cards can still come on post, but they still need to show a driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance to drive onto the installation. Security measures are still in effect, but aren’t obtrusive and won’t be noticed by most people visiting the installation.

The show begins at 9 p.m., around nightfall, and is preceded by the Salute to the Union at 7 p.m. and the Soldier Show at 7:30 p.m. Earlier in the afternoon, concessions, games and other activities for children and adults begin at 3 p.m. and run through the evening.

For those who don’t want to come on Fort Leonard Wood, Waynesville United Methodist Church, located off Highway T in West Waynesville, holds its own fireworks celebration at 9 p.m. preceded by a community celebration with games, prizes, music and food running from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

A highlight of this year’s Soldier Show is the presence of two junior enlisted soldiers who are regularly stationed at Fort Leonard Wood. The Soldier Show, which uses a competitive talent search process to select crew and cast members for a high-energy dance, performance and singing routine that visits American military installations around the world, includes Spec. Julio Peterson of the 795th Military Police Battalion and Staff Sgt. Nakita Fox of the 58th Transportation Battalion for its 2009 performance.

Other events this July 4 at Fort Leonard Wood include performances by the Islanders, a two-piece steel drum band, and a wide variety of booths, food, and fair-style concessions set up for civilians, children, and trainees who have the day off as a training holiday.

Those who can’t attend Independence Day celebrations on July 4 have a second alternative a week later in Richland. The Richland Parks and Recreation Department will hold a celebration at the Shady Dell Park on July 11, with food, music, and a silent auction starting at 5 p.m., followed by fireworks at dusk. Those who want further information on that celebration may call the city at (573) 765-4421.

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