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‘Celebrate America’ offers entertainment, fun for all ages

Hundreds turned out at Tiger Stadium Wednesday night to enjoy an all-American evening of fun, food, prayer, praise and dazzling fireworks soaring high above the crowds.

“Celebrate America” returned to Greenville, and organizers believe the 2018 edition of the annual July 4th celebration, a collaboration between the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce and the City of Greenville, just got bigger and better than ever.

Popular local radio personalities Kyle Haynes and David Norrell served as emcees in both the press box and on the field, keeping the music and patter up-tempo throughout the evening.

“We had some rain earlier, but it’s gotten out of the way — and look at that blue sky, folks,” said Haynes. “The temperature is already dropping some and it’s going to be a beautiful night here for Celebrate America.”

A number of activities and games were available on the field for the first two hours of the 3-plus hour event, including badminton, volleyball, hula hoop, line dancing and cornhole toss, along with face painting and patriotic tattoos. An assortment of star-spangled freebies for the kiddies like red, white and blue leis and light-up necklaces and rings soon adorned the younger set, who also enjoyed playing with the Frisbees and inflatable balls given out by Chamber volunteers, including Marie Owens, Brian Moss and Ben Norman.

Chamber Pages and Camellia Girls were sighted manning various activities, taking photos at the new addition to the event, a July 4th-themed photo booth, handing out miniature American flags and hawking concessions such as freshly grilled hot dogs and refreshing cold drinks in the stands.

Also spotted on the green grass of Tiger Stadium that night was U.S. Representative Martha Roby. She and her two children George and Margaret were special guests of Greenville’s mayor Dexter McLendon.

The Roby family joined McLendon and Butler County commissioner Jesse McWilliams at one of the volleyball nets and tested their luck with the hula hoops.

“Any time a congresswoman comes to town, we appreciate it, but especially on July 4th – we really appreciate her taking the time out of her busy schedule to come and be with us,” said McLendon.

“And I believe they had a good time, too.”

The Greenville High School JROTC Color Guard and members of the Boy Scout Troop 520 were on hand for the Presentation of the Colors at 8 p.m., saluting all branches of the armed services prior to the National Anthem.

Several local ministers shared prayers for the community, county and country while the band Anointed and musician Kenneth Robinson performed songs of praise and patriotism to close out the evening’s program.

Shortly before 9, everyone who wished to do so was invited to take their blankets and quilts down to the field before the big 12-minute fireworks show that capped off the patriotic evening.

“This year’s event was definitely a success,” Tracy Salter, executive director of the GACOC, said. “We had an early afternoon rain while putting the final touches on field decorations and games, but luckily it cleared up and turned out to be a beautiful evening.”

Salter explained that before attendees arrived, several days of work and a plenty of manpower to prep the field and stadium were required.
“The chamber board of directors, Camellia Girls and Chamber Pages, city personnel, and other community volunteers worked tirelessly to ensure the event’s success. A lot of hours and resources are invested in preparing for such an event in an effort to provide our wonderful community with a fun-filled evening of games and activities, and a beautiful fireworks display.”

While the chamber organizes the event each year, Salter says Celebrate America would not exist without the dollars and manpower provided by the City of Greenville.

“We also had some gracious sponsors that helped with concessions and field activities for the event — and we want to give a special thanks to Super Foods, Walmart, K and D Snacks, Wintzell’s Oyster House, Quality Co-Op, True South Outfitters and Pioneer Electric.  These sponsorships really helped us pull everything together for such a large-scale event as this in our town.

“We had a great turnout and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. It was a wonderful opportunity for the community to gather together to celebrate and enjoy Independence Day in their own hometown. I’m thankful to live in such a wonderful place. Greenville really is a great place to live, work and play.”

McLendon wants to give credit to the chamber director and her helpmates.

“I know this event wouldn’t be happening without Tracy and her crew. She did a fabulous job with organizing the whole thing. I can’t say enough good things about her.”

The mayor also believes the annual patriotic event is good for the morale of the community.

“Celebrate America is a time to bring everybody together. It’s a time to remember in these difficult days in our nation that we still live in the greatest country on earth.”