By Matt Decker (Leonard Wood)June 28, 2018
Games, contests, classic cars, food, music and the area's largest fireworks display are on the schedule Wednesday when the annual Fort Leonard Wood Independence Day Celebration gets underway at Gammon Field.
"It's the largest fireworks display in central Missouri, and I can tell you it's the most expensive," said Eli Wilson, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Activities manager, who noted that the entire event -- which is free and open to the public -- is paid for with funds generated from the Fort Leonard Wood recycling program.
Each year, the program contributes $130,000 toward the event, bringing in top-notch live entertainment in addition to the massive fireworks display. The celebration attracts between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors each year.
"The majority of it comes from our recycling dollars," Wilson said. "In fact, the entire event is made possible by funding from recycling. … Because of that, everything is free and open to the public, besides the food, obviously. All the activities are provided at no charge."
Schedule of events
The celebration kicks off at 3 p.m. Wednesday, when Gammon Field opens to the public.
Visitors can immediately enjoy attractions such as the July 4 Car Show, static military displays, inflatables, pony rides, a petting zoo and more.
"We'll have our inflatable bounce houses available, some interactive games and several of the other featured activities we've had for several years," Wilson said.
Audiences can also enjoy two return performances by the Kansas City Disc Dogs, with canines performing tricks with flying discs at 4 p.m. and again at 5:30 p.m.
At 6:15 p.m., local rockers ChristiAna take the stage. The band is fronted by lead singer Christiana Ball, a former drill sergeant at Fort Leonard Wood and the 2013 winner of the Army wide Operation Rising Star.
At 7:45 p.m., audiences can enjoy the annual 50-Gun Salute to the Union, highlighting each state.
At 8:15 p.m. Smallpools will take the stage. The Los Angeles-based indie pop band consists of Sean Scanlon, Mike Kamerman and Beau Kuther, who perform a variety of original music that earned them an appearance on "Late Night with Seth Myers" and a promotional video for SnapChat.
At 9:30 p.m., the event's main attraction -- the Fireworks Spectacular -- is scheduled to get underway.
As with past events, no pets or personal coolers will be allowed at the venue.
Wilson said some traffic changes will be made this year, as well.
"It's a little different than in the past," he said. "We're going to close the road on both ends of Kansas (Avenue) to the south and Minnesota (Avenue) to the north to keep vehicle traffic from moving around the perimeter of the field. We usually close Constitution (Avenue), and we will again this year, but in the past, people used to be able to cross north and south."
For more information about Fort Leonard Wood's Independence Day Celebration, call the Installation Wide Events Office at 573.596.6913 or visit the event listing at https://leonardwood.armymwr.com.