Fireworks, fun, prizes to mark city’s annual July 4 celebration

Sue Guinn Legg • May 1, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Representatives of Pepsi, IGA and the city of Johnson City gathered Tuesday to announce plans for the 27th annual Pepsi Independence Day Fireworks Celebration at Freedom Hall Civic Center.

Scheduled for Wednesday evening, July 4, on the Freedom Hall grounds, this year’s Independence Day celebration will begin at 5 p.m., an hour earlier than in previous years, and will feature a lineup of live musical performances. New to the show this year will be special tributes and prizes for veterans and active members of the military.

Drawings for the event’s biggest prizes, including a 2012 Ford Fiesta from Erwin Motors, a Great Smoky Mountains Super Pack Vacation Getaway and a free August race weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, will be conducted immediately prior to the fireworks display. Registration for the prizes will be conducted from 5-7 p.m. at the foot of the entertainment stage and in advance at Erwin Motors and area IGA stores.

Music will begin at 5, with an opening performance from Nash Street, an award-winning “grassroots country” group that will be returning for their second consecutive Independence Day Celebration appearance. Sevier County bluegrass artists Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier will take the stage at 6:15. Former Miss Johnson City Jessica Nixon will perform at 7:35 and will be followed by singer Linda Davis at 8:10.

Special military tributes will be presented from 7:15-7:35 and again from 9:35-9:50.

Food services, craft booths and children’s games will be available throughout the evening.

The fireworks display, which will once again be staged by Pyro Shows of Lafollette, will begin at 10:10.

The Johnson City Transit System will provide free shuttle bus service to the civic center from Winged Deer Park and from East Tennessee State University from 5-8:15 p.m. Return rides will begin at 10:20.

In announcing the celebration’s lineup of activities, Pepsi’s local Unit Manager Tim Swecker said the annual fireworks show began as an employee appreciation event 27 years ago and has since grown to become the largest fireworks display in East Tennessee.

Swecker called the celebration a true team effort involving not only Pepsi but employees of the city’s police, fire and public works departments, the city’s school and transit systems, Freedom Hall and area businesses, including this year’s presenting sponsor IGA, Erwin Motors and numerous others.

The cost versus the return of the free fireworks show is not what Pepsi is looking for, Swecker said. “This is our way of showing the people of Johnson City and of the region how much we appreciate them throughout the year. We hope everyone will come out and enjoy themselves.”

More information about this year’s show can be found online at www.pepsifireworks.com.

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