The day may have started off a little rainy, but it was no match for the thousands of visitors who showed up Saturday to celebrate Independence Day in J.F. Gregory Park.
Complete with market vendors, arts and crafts, inflatable waterslides, face painting, live music from bands Epidimik and Third Class Citizens — and of course the fireworks finale — the day was nothing short of a success with an estimated 6,000-8,000 people coming through the park for the festivities, according to event planner and Richmond Hill Assistant City Clerk Linda Phillips.
“It is a great way to salute our soldiers and their families for their sacrifices that they make, as well as our police, firefighters and EMS,” Phillips said of the city’s annual celebration. “It is a good way to give back and say thanks to the community. We are so happy to put something on like this for the community to enjoy.”
And enjoy they did. Adam and Jessica Keep brought their young sons, Gavin and Collin, out for the kids activities and what Collin referred to as “firework crackers.”
Burnard Ashley, a member of the Richmond Hill Lions Club, said he was there to remember and give thanks.
“It is a big celebration and important to me, being an ex-serviceman,” said Ashley, who served in the Naby. “I like to thank these other guys who have been in for a long time and some of them that are just coming home. It is a pleasure to welcome them home.”
Mayor Harold Fowler was also on hand enjoying the celebration. He noted the city chose a Saturday, rather than July 4, for the event to make it a little more available to local group fundraisers and also to save the city a little money.
“We wanted to keep this a civic event, which will give organizations like to Lion’s Club or the Boys Scouts a chance to fundraise. Then you have the farmers market, where people have the chance to sell their wares,” he said.
“We tried to have the event on a Saturday, and the fireworks are half price on Saturday. It was a better rate than we would have had on Thursday. And everybody likes fireworks!”