By Bridgett Siter,DFMWR June 27, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. - The largest fireworks show in the Chattahoochee Valley will be bigger and better this year. Fort Benning's Independence Celebration Fireworks Extravaganza will once again be choreographed to a rousing medley of patriotic tunes performed by the Maneuver Center of Excellence Rock Band. But this year, they'll be playing a little longer.
Brittany Beadle, special events coordinator for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said this year's show will feature more explosives and last nearly 30 minutes -- long enough for the MCoE band to rock the 1812 Overture, God Bless the USA, Made in America, Stars and Stripes Forever and the service songs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines. Guests should keep their eyes peeled toward Stewart Field at the start of the show for a six-cannon salute to the troops.
"With the cannons and the fireworks, accompanied by the band," I guarantee you won't find a bigger or better show in the Chattahoochee Valley, maybe in the whole state," said Beadle, who noted there a number of additions and changes to this year's celebration.
Two of the 34-foot jump towers will be open this year from 3 to 6 p.m. to reduce the wait there, where Family members will be given the opportunity to jump from one of the training towers used in the second stage of Airborne School. Parents must accompany their children and sign a waiver of liability, but it will ultimately be up to the cadre to determine if a child is tall enough or heavy enough to jump from the tower.
Beadle said additional inflatable jump houses have also been added, bringing the total to nearly 30, to reduce the wait time in the children's play area.
"When it's hot, patience runs thin and no one wants to wait for anything," Beadle said. "We're always looking for ways to make things run more smoothly."
Toward that end, Beadle said guests should purchase tokens before the event to reduce the time they spend waiting in lines. Food and drink vendors only accept payment in the form of tokens, which are $1 each and can be purchased at a token trailer on-site. To avoid long lines, you can purchase tokens until Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at MWR headquarters on Eckel Avenue. All unused tokens can be redeemed on-site or after the event at MWR headquarters.
The event, which starts at 3 p.m. on York Field, is scheduled for the weekend prior to the Fourth of July to give military families an opportunity to travel for the holiday. It is free and open to the public. Country music singer Natalie Stovall will headline the celebration and the Silver Wings Parachute Exhibition Team and Ranger "FRIES & SPIES" teams will conduct demonstrations on Stewart Field.
Should the event be cancelled due to rain, the show will go on at 10 p.m. Sunday, without the vendors and activities.