FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Fort Rucker will celebrate the nation's independence during Freedom Fest June 29 and the event will feature one of the largest fireworks displays in the area.

Freedom Fest is scheduled for 4-10 p.m. at the Fort Rucker Festival Fields and will also include food, activities for children, live music, games, local vendors, static aircraft displays, the Fallen Heroes Field of Flags and more, according to Fort Rucker Directorate of Family, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation officials.

The headliner of the event, which is free and open to the public, will be the U.S. Army Rolling Thunder Maneuver Center of Excellence Band, said Lynn Avila, special events coordinator.

"Patrons will recognize many vendors and the crowd will have the opportunity to enjoy many different selections," she said. "Also, the fun zone will return for children this year, and we will also have rides, a trampoline, zip line, pony rides and trackless train rides."

The Rolling Thunder MCOE Band will provide a patriotic concert beginning at 7 p.m. before the fireworks display. "We invite the community to come early and enjoy all the food, drinks and entertainment before the fireworks show," Avila said.

Janice Erdlitz, DFMWR marketing director, said the annual event is the perfect opportunity for Soldiers and families to celebrate the nation's independence and experience a full day of local entertainment.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to show support for Fort Rucker," she said. "Freedom Fest is a celebration for our entire community. We look forward to this day when we invite everyone out to celebrate our nation's independence with us at Fort Rucker.

"We all stand together, side by side, Soldier to neighbor, and feel the same powerful emotions of being proud Americans," she added. "Freedom Fest is a tradition for many families. We often hear our retirees comment on attending Freedom Fest when they were stationed here as active duty Soldiers. Building memories to last a lifetime is one of best parts of what MWR does for our families."

Safety is also a top priority for officials as people come out to celebrate the nation's independence, said Marcel Dumais, Fort Rucker chief of police, reminding people that certain items are prohibited during Freedom Fest.

No coolers, tote bags or backpacks will be permitted, except for medical and baby care items. Also, no pets, no fireworks, no glass containers and no weapons, to include guns, knives, pepper spray or other such items will be allowed. Bicycles, scooters, roller blades or skateboards will also not be permitted.

"The [Directorate of Public Safety] wants everyone to come out and enjoy Freedom Fest 2018, but we ask that you do it responsibly," added the chief of police. "There will be prohibited items signs posted in the parking areas as a reminder not to bring those items on the field. Last year, there were still a number of patrons that brought pets to the event -- please leave your pets at home, only certified service animals will be allowed on the festival fields."

People are also reminded to park in the designated areas for where they wish to exit the installation, said the chief of police.

"Ensure when you arrive on Fort Rucker that you park in the parking area for the gate you wish to exit from when the fireworks are complete," he said. "As an example, if you want to leave from the Daleville Gate after the fireworks, make sure you park in the Daleville parking area because the exit routes will be strictly enforced.

"During the Freedom Fest celebration there will be multiple police personnel on the fields to assist patrons," he added. "The DPS incident command post will also be located on Field A and patrons can ask for assistance at that location. A medical tent and lost child tent will also be set up on Field A to provide assistance."

According to Dumais, signage will be in place to direct visitors to the correct parking area for their preferred gate.

"It is important for patrons to follow the parking and traffic flow plan because the plan was developed to ensure people's safety as they enter and exit the installation," he said. "There will be a number of road closures associated with Freedom Fest, and it is important for people to follow the signs posted, as well as any instructions from police personnel and event staff. The egress routes are set up to move the large volume of vehicles off the installation as quickly and safely as possible. Patrons should understand that it is going to take time to get all the vehicles off the installation, so we ask for their patience up front."

Although the event is open to the public, a gate access pass is required. Unescorted visitors planning to attend Freedom Fest must obtain a visitor's pass from one of two visitor control centers.

Visitors may obtain passes from VCCs at the Daleville and Ozark gates. The Daleville VCC is open Mondays-Sundays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Ozark VCC is open Mondays-Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If planning on attending this year's celebration, Dumais recommends people come a few days prior to get an access control pass, as the VCCs will not remain open after normal business hours on the day of the event.

For more information, call 255-1749.