"Celebrate, America: Festival and fireworks usher in the Fourth"

"If the weather permits, the Blackjacks Flying Club from Arlington will do several flybys during Celebrate America, including the Missing Man Formation to honor veterans who have died in service. The shores of Holmes Harbor will echo with the sounds of patriotic music, the words of inspirational speakers, and the booming report of shells as fireworks explode in the skies above when Celebrate America, the annual pre-Fourth of July festival returns on Tuesday, July 3. Organized by the Whidbey Evangelical Alliance, the celebration is an annual family event that has drawn thousands to South Whidbey for its festival atmosphere, its performing events and spectacular fireworks. This year Celebrate America gets under way at 5 p.m., when food booths will open at Freeland Park, providing dinner options and snacks. Beforehand, roads will be closed around the park at 4 p.m. Visitors should park in downtown Freeland, then take a free shuttle starting at 4 p.m. from the Washington Mutual Bank parking lot. The shuttle will return people to the bank at about 10:45 p.m.A children's area under a big tent by the playground in the park will be open from 6 to 8 p.m., offering puppet shows, face painting and other activities for kids.Entertainment will take place from 6-8 p.m. as well on the outdoor stage. Performances will feature King's Kids and Kompany, a 30-member children's choir from the Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Langley. The Don Wolf jazz quartet from Issaquah will play, and magician Jeff Evans will present an interactive magic show. Also performing will be the Tender Harvest Quartet from Langley, a popular group that has appeared at many island events.And many of the festivalgoers will want to take a swing at a beater car-- three swings for a buck.A special part of the evening will be a time for honoring the men and women who have served in the United States armed forces, in a patriotic program that will include a color guard and singing of the national anthem, as well as recognition of elected officials who are present.One of the most awaited events of Celebrate America are the flybys of the Blackjacks Flying Club from Arlington. Weather permitting, the planes will also fly in the the Missing Man Formation to honor veterans who have died in service. Finally, the much anticipated giant fireworks show will start at dark, about 10:15 p.m., with 20 minutes of spectacular bursts in the skies over Holmes Harbor, accompanied by stirring patriotic music.Bring the family, lawn chairs, a blanket, sunglasses (hopefully you can leave the umbrella at home this year) and enjoy an evening of patriotic inspiration and wholesome entertainment, said Dareld Chittim, one of the organizers. Celebrate America is presented free to the public, funded by donations from individuals and businesses. Anyone wishing to help with expenses can mail a check to Celebrate America, 5373 Maxwelton Road, Langley, Wa. 98260; or is call 221-1656.More information is available on the Web at South Whidbey Assembly of God; or view some of last year's photos at Celebrate America 2000. "

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