By Emiko Bacon
The Freedom Festival tradition continues to evoke patriotism and celebration in the hearts of Provo residents.
“We are proud to be Americans. We are grateful for the blessings we have. Our mission is to celebrate and remember that,” said David A. McDougal, chair of the Freedom Festival board of trustees.
As far as we know, Provo residents celebrated July 4 since the founding of the city, he said.
Throughout the years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, private citizens and finally the Freedom Festival board of trustees helped to bring the festival to where it is today, McDougal said.
The board of trustees was created following the decision to turn the Freedom Festival into a private, non-profit organization, he said.
“We have a board of trustees, executive committee, event chairs and thousands of volunteers that really act in the public interest to assure that we have a wonderful celebration each year,” McDougal said.
Linda Walton, Freedom Festival publicity chair, said the festival is the third largest parade and celebration in the nation following behind the Macy”s Thanksgiving parade and the Pasadena Rose parade.
The Freedom Festival children”s parade will begin at 850 E. Center Street at the State and County complex at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday June, 30.
Jalayne Lamph, event chair of the children”s parade, said the parade is a place where children can show their patriotism and meet other children from across the city.
The theme of the parade is “America Welcomes the World.”
“Most people have looked to America as a place that has always welcomed people from all over the world,” she said. “We do have quite a diversity here in Provo, and I think we should take the time to learn about other cultures.”
The Grand parade will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, July 4, at 960 North University Ave.
According to a Freedom Festival press release, the Grand parade began in 1877 and will be making its 124th annual appearance.
According to the press release, last year the parade drew a crowd of approximately 250,000 spectators.
Walton said the parade will include half a dozen large balloons of cartoon and patriotic characters, which are similar to those used in Macy”s Thanksgiving parade.
The parade also features colorful, professionally crafted floats, equestrian units, bands, marching groups, and street entertainers, she said.
Rulon Gardner, 2000 Olympic Greco Roman Wrestling gold medallist, will be honored in the parade.
Gardner was going to be the parade”s grand marshal but due to delayed arrival to Provo, he will participate but no longer be grand marshal, Walter said.
McDougal said the Freedom Festival has adopted the spirit of John Adams”s statement that the signing of the constitution is a day that should never be forgotten.
“We don”t want to take freedom for granted. There”s a price that has to be paid and its been paid by many, many people. We are recipients of these great sacrifices,” he said.