FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Gammon Field will once again be the setting for live music, classic cars and more — along with the largest fireworks show in central Missouri — when Fort Leonard Wood opens its annual Independence Day Celebration at 4 p.m. on July 4.
Eli Wilson, Community Activities manager with the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said the FMWR team is excited to “bring this great tradition back in person.”
“FMWR is happy to be able to host this event, but as always we have to mention that it’s certainly a team effort — literally, the entire installation is involved in this,” Wilson said. “We have everyone involved, from military units to the Directorate of Emergency Services, Logistics and Readiness Command, the Directorate of Public Works, the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security — it’s the effort of multiple organizations, working together, that make this event possible. Come out and enjoy a great day of fun and festivities, ending with the largest fireworks display in the area.”
Schedule of events
Throughout the celebration, Wilson said there will be an interactive zone that includes inflatable activities, a petting zoo and pony rides.
The car show takes place from 4 to 7 p.m., Wilson said. Afterward, trophies will be awarded in four categories, including Best in Show, Best Car, Best Truck and Best Motorcycle. Vehicle staging begins on-site at 3 p.m., and vehicles must be removed from the event site no later than 8 p.m., or they will remain in place until the completion of the fireworks display.
The cost to include a vehicle in the car show is $10 in advance (by June 30) or $20 at the event (cash only). Advanced registration is available online or at the Auto Skills Center.
At 5 p.m., the first of two 25-minute performances by the Kansas City Disc Dogs will take place, Wilson said. The act, which involves dogs catching flying disks in a variety of formations, has been featured at the Fort Leonard Wood celebration several times previously, as well as at professional sporting events in Kansas City.
Their second performance begins at 6:30 p.m., and attendees are welcome to meet the trainers and dogs before and between the shows, Wilson said.
At 7:30 p.m., following the car show trophy presentations, the 399th Army Band’s Rough Riders rock band will perform.
Staff Sgt. Brian Mackie is the music performance team leader for the rock band. He said in 17-plus years of service, he’s never had “the honor of being a headline act” for an Army Fourth of July celebration.
“After the last few years of trying to navigate these types of celebrations through the COVID pandemic, it is a great privilege to have this opportunity, and we are looking forward to getting out and playing for our fellow service members and guests,” he said. “We are working diligently to provide a setlist that will offer something for everyone, as well as provide some patriotic titles to ensure we all remember what this holiday truly represents.”
At 8:45 p.m., a 50-gun Salute to the Union will take place. The event features remarks by Fort Leonard Wood senior leaders, the Salute to the Union, narrated by Fort Leonard Wood Drill Sergeant of the Year Staff Sgt. Krista Osborne, the national anthem performed by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Puls from the 399th Army Band, and a cannon volley by Soldiers from the 14th Military Police Brigade.
Just after 9 p.m., the 399th Army Band’s concert band — made up of roughly 30 musicians — will perform, leading up to the 9:30 p.m. start of the fireworks display, featuring more than 6,000 shells.
Parking and miscellaneous
Parking will be available around Gammon Field, Wilson said. Constitution and Iowa avenues will be closed for the day from Minnesota to Kansas avenues. Recommended parking areas include shoulder parking on the surrounding roads, the USO and Nutter Field House parking lots, the Post Exchange, the Rec Plex, the Main Post Chapel, Baker Theater and Gerlach Field.
Wilson asked that attendees not bring pets or personal coolers to the event.
Events leading up to July Fourth
Wilson said FMWR has lots of events planned before the Fourth of July as well. These include:
- a virtual scavenger hunt that begins on June 28. Click here for more information;
- a virtual “Show Your True Colors” contest that begins on June 30. Click here for more information;
- a Red, White and Blue paintball event that begins at 5 p.m. July 1 at the Outdoor Adventure Center. Cost is $50 per five-person team, and includes paintball guns, masks, unlimited air and field passes. Paint may be purchased separately. Call 573.596.4223 for more information;
- a Red, White and Blue two-person, 18-hole golf scramble that begins at 8 a.m. July 2 at Piney Valley Golf Course. Cost is $40 per person. More information is available here; and
- a Red, White and Blue glow run that begins at 8:30 p.m. July 2 at Davidson Fitness Center. More information is available here.
Patrons can also enjoy half-price admission to Wallace Pool and Splash Park on July 3, and free admission on July 4.
Museum hours on July Fourth
Besides FMWR’s Fourth of July events, the John B. Mahaffey Museum Complex — which includes the Army Engineer Museum, the Military Police Museum and the Chemical Corps Museum, along with gift shops — will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on July 4. The complex is located at 980 South Dakota Ave., across from Davidson Fitness Center.