Utah’s July celebrations begin with Stadium of Fire

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Performances from stars Kelly Clarkson and Carly Rae Jepsen launched Utah County’s July celebration season, entertaining more than 48,000 at the Stadium of Fire in BYU’s Lavell Edwards Stadium on July 4.

Clarkson and Jepsen teamed up with acrobats, parachuters, dancers, singers and other performers followed by an aerial fireworks show.

Performances kicked off with two songs from this year’s Stadium of Fire Talent Search winners, Provo band The Strike. Subsequent performers included the Skydive Utah parachute team and the Stadium of Fire dancers, who recreated a U.S.S. battleship on the field for one of their musical numbers.

Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil dazzled the audience next with performances of extreme acrobatic feats. The group concluded its act with roaring applause from the crowd by lifting, throwing and/or back-flipping four of their acrobats into a four-person tower.

Jepsen opened her act with her song “This Kiss” following a second performance from the Stadium of Fire dancers. Jepsen, who is Canadian, told the crowd she loves this country and that she was proud to be celebrating here. Often running off the stage to give high-fives, Jepsen energetically sang along with the crowd to “Good Time” and then finished her set with her 2012 chart-topping hit, “Call Me Maybe.”

Following Jepsen’s performance, wounded combat veteran Dan Nevins was introduced to a standing ovation from the crowd. Nevins presented information about the Wounded Warrior project, which helps wounded service members adjust to life post injuries. Grammy Award-winning R&B singer Patti Austin, who served as the master of ceremonies at the event, then sang “Lean on Me” with the Stadium of Fire Chorus as a tribute to the project as members of the audience waved their phones and other lights in the air.

The crowd then warmly welcomed Kelly Clarkson to the stage with the biggest applause of the night. Clarkson first came to fame when she won the first season of American Idol in 2002 and has since produced 11 No. 1 singles worldwide. Clarkson sang powerfully and jumped around excitedly throughout her set, and the audience enthusiastically sang along to her songs “Since U Been Gone” and “Stronger.”

Finally, the Stadium of Fire finished the Fourth of July celebrations with a bang — or hundreds of bangs — in what organizers claim is the biggest stadium fireworks show in America. Emcee Patti Austin shared patriotic sentiments, and the Stadium of Fire Chorus sang as the fireworks burst over the top of the stadium in beautiful combinations of red, white and blue, among other colors.

The annual event, now in its 33rd year, was put on by more than 1,500 volunteers as part of America’s Freedom Festival. The performances and the overall event paid tribute to the United States’ origins, and to the many men and women who have and who are now serving in the Armed Forces.

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