July 4 Event 'Bigger, Better'

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Let the sparks begin.

This year's Independence Day festival will be rigged with the works: a duck race, a country music concert and yes, even fireworks.

"I've canceled fireworks once before -- it's just not a pretty thing," said Fire Marshal Mike Winters at a recent planning meeting.

Fire and police officials will allow fireworks on the Fourth, barring strong winds or the outbreak of another fire nearby.

The $10,000 show is scheduled to go off around 9:15 p.m. on the big day, with a patriotic sendoff from the 108th Army National Guard Band.

"The fireworks are going to be even bigger and better this year," said Charlene Hunt, special events coordinator for Payson Parks and Recreation.

The festivities will officially begin at 3 p.m., with games in the Green Valley Park amphitheater.

A rubber duckie race sponsored by the Rim Country Rotary Foundation will follow the games. At 5 p.m. about 2,000 yellow rubber ducks will charge through the lake, each competing for the $1,000 grand prize. Proceeds will benefit local charities.

The band Young Country will give a concert that evening in the amphitheater. They will take the stage at 7 p.m.

Hamburgers, snow cones and glow ropes will be provided by various vendors, including Payson Youth Football, Santa's List and Payson High School Softball boosters.

Town Manager Fred Carpenter said the holiday brings people together.

"I think it creates a real sense of community ...," he said. "It's an extremely important holiday to our nation."

Police Lt. Don Engler said he is expecting about 4,000 to 5,000 people this year, and the police force will be ready.

Certain streets near the park will be closed off specifically for shuttle buses. The shuttles will pick up passengers at Rumsey Park, and drop them off at Julia Randall Elementary School.

There will be additional handicapped parking this year as well.

For more information about the Fourth of July celebration, call Payson Parks and Recreation Department at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7.

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