Celebrate A Family-Style Fourth

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The big bangs begin around 9 p.m. on the Fourth of July when the music of Western Fusion has faded into the night.

The town is planning to ignite a traditional fireworks show above the big lake at Green Valley Park.

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The night skies over Green Valley Park will sparkle when fireworks top off the Rim Country's Fourth of July celebration. Events start in mid-afternoon and continue through the evening, and include a concert by Western Fusion.

The event will feature 2,205 total effects.

"It's way cool," said Payson Parks and Recreation Director Bill Schwind.

A half-hour show of shells filled with colored gunpowder will be shot up by Fireworks Productions of Arizona to light up the Payson night.

"The grand finale will be a 60-shell piece, including 35 of the big ones," Schwind said

Because the fireworks are set off over the lake and the area is foamed and nearby park grounds irrigated, Schwind is not anticipating any problems unless the wind kicks up.

The Payson Fire Department will have officers on hand to keep track of embers.

Local firefighters and police officers who are members of Public Safety Christmas for Kids will be selling brats (bratwurst), hot dogs and Albert Hunt's barbecue beef sandwiches out of their concession stand.

The concession will also have neon glow necklaces and other trinkets for sale.

Profits will benefit Payson children at Christmas time. The concession stand will be open from 2 p.m. until about 9 p.m.

Between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. children of all ages can compete in games to win prizes.

Children will be grouped to compete by the following ages: 4 and under, 5-6, 7-8, 9-10, and 11-12.

Children can try their hand at balancing a wooden egg on a wooden spoon as they walk rapidly across the grass.

They can team up for leap frog and three-legged races.

Individual racers can climb inside a gunny sack and hop across the grass.

There will also be a tortilla toss competition.

And in the time-honored tradition of Independence Day picnics, children can compete in a tug-of-war finale.

"We have all sorts of prizes -- tons of Fourth of July stuff," said Krista LaHaye, parks employee.

"We have bears and kick balls and footballs, Dairy Queen sundae coupons and pool passes to name a few."

There will not be any shuttle service to the Fourth of July events.

The east parking lot along Green Valley Parkway near the band shell is all reserved for the handicapped.

People can park their vehicles at other GVP parking lots, and at Julia Randall Elementary School.

People can also park at the high school and walk over to the festivities.

Fourth of July concert

This year's Fourth of July concert band is one that has performed all over Arizona in the last decade, performing at Camp Verde Days, Phoenix International Raceway and opening shows for Charlie Daniels and Blake Shelton.

"Western Fusion plays everything from the classic country songs of Merle Haggard to recent country songs of Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban," said founding member Brian Childress.

"We're looking forward to coming to Payson," Childress said.

Everyone in Western Fusion likes to play something a little different once in a while, so the band's country repertoire includes a mix of rock 'n' roll. A set can include Matchbox 20 and Billy Idol hits with some sounds of KC and the Sunshine Band thrown in for fun.

"In the country bars you can get away with playing a little bit of rock and a little bit of this and a little bit of that," Childress said. "In a rock bar, you can't play any country, and country fits us the best."

The different musical backgrounds of members make it fun for them to treat their audience to both kinds of music.

"Our drummer played in some top 40 rock bands in the 1980s, same with our keyboard player," Childress said. "My fiddle player comes from a bluegrass background and my bass player comes from really classic country and me, I'm just kind of mixed up with all of it."

The band's ultimate goal? "Become the best band in Arizona," Childress said. "After that, maybe finish the original CD and try to go to the next level."

For more information about the band, visit their Web site at www.westernfusionband.com.

The concert starts at 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 4 at the bandstand in Green Valley Park.

Family Fun Fourth

All events at Green Valley Park

  • 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., Public Safety Christmas for Kids concession
  • 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Payson Parks and Recreation Department-sponsored games
  • 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Concert Under the Stars: Western Fusion
  • 9 p.m., Fireworks

Concession stand

Public Safety Christmas for Kids concession stand prices

Hot dogs $1

Brats $2

Albert Hunt's barbecue

beef sandwiches $3

Sodas $1

Water $1

Gatorade $2

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