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Celebrating freedom: Fourth of July filled with music, food, fireworks

 

VIDALIA — Four heart attacks would not keep Kenneth McGee from enjoying his Fourth of July on the Vidalia Riverfront.

McGee, who recently moved to Ferriday to be near his daughter after her mother died, said he now has a pacemaker. But the Jackson native turned Miss-Lou resident was lively as he camped out early for the fireworks show Wednesday night.

“The good Lord is watching over me,” McGee said.

McGee said this year marked the third time he had gone to see fireworks, and each year he has enjoyed the shows.

He attended this year’s second-annual Fourth of July festival put on by the Vidalia Beautification Committee  with Virlean Hoye and the pair sat together on a bench early that evening in anticipation of the fireworks show to come later at dusk.

“You really can’t put it into words … it’s just a wonderful experience,” McGee said.

As the sun sank and the heat died down, more people began to show up ahead of the grand finale.

But the fireworks were far from the festival’s only draw, and 11-year-old Madison Walker knew immediately what her favorite part of the event is.

“The food,” she said.

As she and her 15-year-old sister, Caitlyn, snacked on some red, white and blue Italian ice — which matched their star-spangled outfits — a plethora of other options such as chicken on a stick, fried pies, hot dogs, nachos, burgers and many others were available on the festival grounds.

The two girls and their mother, Tracy Walker, said they have been going to see the fireworks for the past 10 years, and they were impressed with this year’s festival.

“To be in a small community, they do a really good job,” Tracy Walker said. “It’s like something you would find in a bigger city, I think.”

For Tracy Walker, the holiday had special significance, given that her brother-in-law had served in the U.S. military, and one of her friends is currently on a tour overseas.

“It certainly makes for a more meaningful Fourth,” she said.

As dusk approached, more and more people of all types gathered, as McGee predicted.

“In the three years I’ve been coming, it’s never failed yet,” he said with a laugh. “If you’ve got a family of 20, you’ve got room.”

People gathered on both the riverfront and the Natchez bluff as the show began at 9:20 p.m., when the night sky illuminated with bombardments of color that ran the gamut in shapes and sizes.  Children shrieked with joy from the first explosion to the fantastic conclusion.

Those gathered on the bluff showed their approval with cheers and a round of applause before heading home after an eventful Miss-Lou Fourth of July.

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