Fireworks, music and an all around good time is what Pops in the Park offered once again.
This year's celebration marked another success for the 15-year tradition held at the Comanche Trail Park Amphitheater. The evening kicked off with former Big Spring resident Don Turner and his Dixieland band taking the stage at 6:30 p.m.
Turner, a contractor for the Big Spring Symphony, and his four-man band — three of whom are members of the symphony — brought a little bit of jazz to the Big Spring community. Their line up included several original scores, including one written by a Big Spring resident.
“This year went very well. The pre-show was wonderful, the symphony played beautifully and the fireworks were amazing,” Pops in the Park Co-Chair Kelly Grant said. “I am very impressed at how well it went and we are already looking forward to putting on a bigger and better show next year.”
Official attendance numbers were not taken, but according to Debbye ValVerde, Pops in the Park treasurer, the amphitheater was packed. Attendance numbers didn't stop there though; people didn't only fill the amphitheater, but the numbers spread throughout the park and along Highway 87.
“You could stand at the top of the amphitheater and look out and just see cars lined up all along the highway in addition to all those who were in the park,” ValVerde said.
Those watching from the amphitheater were able to take advantage of the more than 25 vendors serving food and selling Fourth of July memorabilia. Several churches and Relay For Life teams were providing food and refreshments as a way of raising donations for their local causes.
Once again, the Commemorative Air Force provided a special moment with their fly over and missing man formation. The fly-over took place right before the tribute video aired recognizing local men and women in the military.
“The most memorable, touching moment of the evening — not to take away from the symphony or the fireworks — was the fly over,” ValVerde said. “The missing man formation just takes your breath away.”
The Big Spring Symphony once again provided the backdrop music for the firework display, which was provided by a Fort Worth company, Atlas.
“This is truly an event that is unique to the area,” Grant said. “We have this beautiful amphitheater and this is one of the ways we can put it to use. I don't know of many other communities regionally who put on this big of a show. We need to continue to come together and show our support for the event.”
Of course, Pops in the Park and Fourth of July are not only about fireworks. The soldiers who have fought for the nation's freedom and ensuring Big Spring residents are able to enjoy moments like Pops in the Park are the real reasons behind the celebration.
“It is so important that we honor our soldiers who fight and make this the great place to live that it is,” Pops in the Park Co-Chair Jan Hansen said. “I appreciate all that they have done to make our community what it is.
“Our community needs to stay behind them and show them support.”
This year, not only were Big Spring residents in attendance, but some people traveled from as far away as Houston to enjoy the show. Other area communities such as San Angelo, Midland and Snyder were represented at this year's Pops in the Park.
The entire celebration is made possible through community support — donations made by corporate sponsors as well as individual donations. KBST was a sponsor, as usual, and joined in the festivities. Throughout the evening, members of KBST launched commemorative Pops in the Park shirts to the audience.
“All of this is done by contributions. We have big contributions of course, but we all so have lots of little ones and each dollar counts,” ValVerde said. “Every bit of the money that is donated goes to pops and serves as seed money for the next year in order for us to continue to bring a bigger and better show.
“This is a community event all around,” ValVerde added. “It is a wonderful way for us to pay tribute to the men and women who serve. It is really exciting to see Big Spring and Howard County residents come together for this purpose, just as they do for many things, and show our support for all those fighting for our country.”
Donations were collected at the amphitheater entrance and will be used to help with expenses from this year as well as go toward funding next year's event.
“It really has been a blessing to me to be able to serve on the committee and be a part of all this committee has done,” Hansen said.
For those wanting to make a donation or find out how to support next year's Pops in the Park, contact ValVerde at the Big Spring Area Chamber of Commerce by calling 263-7641.
“This is just another example of the depth of pride that Big Springers have for their city and country. So many entities joined forces to make the afternoon and evening a spectacular event for everyone,” Dana Byrd, event attendee, said. “It's a great tradition that I sure hope lasts a really long time.”