It may start out like any summer picnic in the park, with balloons, pony rides and cotton candy, but the 2012 Pacific Independence Day Fireworks Show also will feature a special patriotic program for veterans and their families.
Organizers have expanded the event to include a memorial to Pacific area men who have fallen in combat and a family walking parade around the park circle where the most patriotic outfits will be awarded with prizes.
The event will take place Sunday, July 1, at the city park on Congress Street. Parking will be allowed on the ballfields in the circle. Activities will begin at 3 p.m.
Vendor booths will offer fried tacos, hot dogs, cotton candy, snowcones, popcorn, water, soda and lemonade.
Activities will include sand art, face painting, bling-it body art, balloons and pony rides.
There is no cost to watch the fireworks or to participate in the fallen soldier ceremony or walking parade.
Carol Johnson is the event chairman. Ken Scott will provide sound equipment and act as deejay to play oldies music.
At 6 p.m. the walking parade will begin, once around city park circle. A professional stilt-walker dressed as Uncle Sam will lead the parade. All patrons will be invited to line up behind the leaders and create a walking memorial to the nation’s birthday.
“This is to be a flag-waving, exuberant, red white and blue family walking parade to celebrate everything our country has to enjoy,” Johnson said.
Vendors and walkers are encouraged to wear red, white and blue for the celebration. Judges will view booths and be stationed around the parade to select the most patriotic booths and individuals.
No bicycles, skateboards or motor vehicles will be allowed in the parade.
First-, second- and third-place prizes will be offered for the best decorated vendor booth, individual, stroller and wheelchair.
Free flags will be distributed to youngsters to wave during the parade. Flags can be picked up at the organizers booth next to the stage.
At 8:30 p.m. the Colwell Harris and Paul Williams American Legion Post Unit 320 Auxiliary will present a program honoring the fallen Pacific soldiers who have given their lives in combat. Jack Bone will open the ceremony with an invocation. Rae McElliott will sing the national anthem.
The Pacific post is named for Colwell Harris, the first Pacific area man to fall in World War I, and Paul Williams, the first to fall in World War II.
Those to be honored in the program are the men whose names are carved on the Second and Union streets Pacific Honor Roll, plus one additional name yet to be engraved, which includes men from all branches of service who served in every war from World War I to the current conflict.
Unit 320 Auxiliary began honoring Pacific area military personnel who served during combat shortly after World War I when they set up the Honor Roll. The theater style marquee that included all who served was later replaced with a permanent granite marker with the names of the fallen engraved on the monument. Space was left to add names of those later killed in action.
“We have not stopped honoring all who served in combat,” Michelle Bruns said. “But when the granite monument was installed it was not practical to engrave the names of all veterans so the Auxiliary Unit decided to engrave the names of the men who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives.”
The word fallen soldier is a generic term used to include all those who died in combat, Bruns said. Names on the granite memorial are men from every branch of service. The list includes only men because so far no women have fallen in combat.
Bruns will read the names of each man as a candle is lit and bell rung in memoriam.
A special seating area will be set up for families of the fallen soldiers who will be remembered.
At 9:30 p.m. the fireworks exhibit will take place.
The Pacific tourism group pays for a portion of the fireworks, but organizer Carol Johnson raises money to make up the difference. Some funds are still needed. To contribute, contact Carol Johnson at 314-221-5919.
A list of the vendor booths registered for the afternoon and evening events include:
Eagles Aerie 3842 Auxiliary — will offer fried tacos, nachos and popcorn.
American Legion Women’s Auxiliary Post 320 — glow-in-the-dark items.
Julie Brown — creative critters and sand art.
Lee Ann Box — bling-it body art, face painting and animal balloons.
Kaleidoscope Consignment — watermelon tea and lemonade.
Deana Christine’s Gallery — snow cones, cotton candy and frozen treats.
Sheila and Jessica Grippo — free children’s wash-off tattoos.
Starburst the Balloon Artist — free animal balloons for a four-hour period.
Meadow Crest Farm — pony rides.
Action Riders — hot dogs and hamburgers.
Pacific Presbyterian Church — soda, water, chips and dip.
The Pacific Historical Museum will have an exhibit history of fallen soldiers, including pictures, the branch of service, when and where they died and, in some cases, where they are buried. The museum works on its veterans archive continuously and adds information or pictures as they are acquired.
Pat Smiley will offer information on the Veterans Walk in Liberty Field.
Education Station also will have a booth.