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Celebrating the Fourth
By JORGE SANCHEZ
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 30, 2000
Though the ban on personal fireworks has been lifted, only Crystal River is offering a public fireworks display on Independence Day.
The fireworks are scheduled to begin about 9:30 p.m. over the waters of Kings Bay. Prime viewing spots are Hunter Springs Park or just about any parking lot or side street west of U.S. 19. The closer to Kings Bay, the better. The show will last about an hour.
Before the fireworks light up the night sky on Tuesday, the Family Freedom 2000 Celebration Festival will offer a day-long schedule of family fun at Hunter Springs Park. Hunter Springs Park has a swimming area, picnic tables and playgrounds.
There is no admission for the event. The parking lot will fill up quickly, however, and police will be directing traffic and controlling parking along side streets.
The fun begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday with a daylong volleyball tournament and many other activities. Other activities include a Moon Walk fun-house and miniature train rides for youngsters.
Hunter Springs beach will be open for swimming and the spring-fed, 72-degree waters will provide a refreshingly cool swim. Also, River Sports Kayak will have about 25 kayaks bobbing in the water, available for free demo rides. Experienced kayak instructors will be available to help first-timers get under way.
Local entertainers are scheduled to begin performing at 3 p.m. at the stage area at Hunter Springs. Scheduled performers are: Jesse Watson, Jimmy Brown, Anna Schutz, Miriam Foster and Jim Harpin.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and other food will be sold at Hunter Springs by the band boosters associations for Crystal River and Lecanto high schools.
There won't be a large fireworks display in Inverness this year, but there will be plenty of fun as the Courthouse Square merchants play host to a street dance party Monday.
The Uncle Sam Jam 2000 begins at 5 p.m. Monday. Activities include a bicycle parade, live entertainment and a street dance, costume contests, classic car show and food and beverages. The Uncle Sam Jam is presented by the new Inverness Olde Towne Association, a merchants' group.
The Uncle Sam Jam begins with a bicycle parade that forms in front of the Crown Hotel on N Seminole Avenue. The parade route takes the bikers along Tompkins and ends at the Old Courthouse. Cyclists can decorate their rides along a patriotic theme. The event is open to children and adults. There is no advance registration -- just show up and ride.
After the parade, Inverness Mayor Joyce Rogers is the hostess of a patriotic ceremony at the Old Courthouse. Events include songs performed by Ms. Senior Citrus County Thelma Mackel and guest speaker Nigel Sumner, owner of the Crown Hotel. The local chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution will make a presentation and Charlie Wade of Suncoast Bicycles will hand out the awards to the bike parade winners.
From there, the fun continues with activities leading up to the street dance, which is scheduled to last until 11 p.m. Music for the street dance will be mostly oldies rock and roll and dancers can twist and shout in the street beneath the Old Courthouse clock tower. The music will be provided by WRGO 102.7 FM, a local oldies radio station. Disc jockeys Ric Craig and JJ from the station's morning show are hosts for the dance party. A limbo and other dance contests are also part of the fun. Costume contests for the "Best Dressed" from the 1950s, '60s or '70s will be held through the night.
Earlier in the evening, various events like children's games, face and nail paintings and watermelon eating contests will be held on the square. The Citrus County Wanderers car club will display classic cars.
The Courthouse Square restaurants will all remain open during the Uncle Sam Jam.Parking is available at all the downtown lots, but the Courthouse Square will be closed to vehicle traffic.
Dunnellon will play host to its Boomtown Blast Tuesday at Dunnellon High School, with a fireworks show capping a day of activities.
Before the fireworks begin, some lucky person will win $200 as part of Uncle Sam's Cash Landing. The school's football field will be marked off in small squares and an airplane will fly over and drop a flour sack. The owner of the square in which the flour-bomb lands wins the cash. Tickets for the Cash Landing can be purchased for $10 at the chamber of commerce of W Pennsylvania Avenue, the Dunnellon Fire Department or Grumble's Antiques.
The Boomtown Blast promises lots of family fun and begins at Dunnellon High at 4 p.m."We will have games for the children including watermelon games, pie eating, gamesof chance and games of development," said event organizer Penny Lofton.
Other activities include a dunking booth and a special sports arena featuring games such as the football throw, basketball dunk and baseball speed throw, Lofton said.
"Our main attraction for the evening will be entertainment," Lofton said. "We not only have some of the best local talent performing but are opening up the stage to a lip sync show.'"
Headliners for the event are singer Doc Redwater and Gilberto Dannin, a saxophone player.
There will be food booths open as well as a barbecue sauce contest sponsored by Skeet's Bar-B-Que in Dunnellon and WTRS 102.3 FM radio.
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