Crowds filled the stadium, fanning their faces in the heat, to watch the Stadium of Fire in celebration of Independence Day. Carrie Underwood headlined, with host J.R. Martinez bringing the entire audience to its feet as he spoke of veterans and service members.
“Stadium of Fire is one of our nation’s most spectacular Independence Day celebrations,” said Paul Warner, executive director of America’s Freedom Festival. “There really is nothing like it, and we’re so thrilled to welcome back a superstar like Carrie Underwood, who put on a tremendous show in 2010.”
With more than 15 million albums sold worldwide, six Grammy awards and, most recently, starring as Maria in the live television event “The Sound of Music,” Underwood was thrilled that fans asked her to perform again.
“We were so excited when we got a phone call asking if we wanted to come back to play the Stadium of Fire. And, yeah, of course we did,” Underwood said.
Provo City Mayor John Curtis addressed the crowd before the entertainment began, highlighting Provo’s achievements over the past year, including the city’s acquisition of Rock Canyon.
“This announcement is one of the most significant things we have done to preserve our past and assure the canyon’s future and protect its natural beauty,” Curtis said.
Curtis shot limited-edition “Provo Rocks” T-shirts into the crowd to celebrate. Additionally, three lucky audience members received a free year’s supply of cupcakes from the Sweet Tooth Fairy.
J.R. Martinez, a U.S. Army veteran and winner of season 13 of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” set the undertone of respect and appreciation for military personnel. Having been severely injured during his service, he shared how family helped him overcome his trials.
Martinez spoke of his other family, the fellow military members who serve the United States. He asked veterans and current service members and their families to stand. The end of his speech moved most of the audience to stand in honor of these people.
“I’m here to say to all the men and women who have served in the military, from past decades to the present, to all the families, to all the wounded, and in memory of all of those that have made the ultimate sacrifice, I respect, honor and support you 100 percent,” Martinez said.
A skydiver flew into the stadium with an American flag waving behind. The entrance of the colors followed, with all different military branches carrying their own flag. The proud colors of red, white and blue were dominant on the field, with more than 10 American flags and all the men carrying them. This was a powerful patriotic moment, as many people wiped their eyes.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by active members of the National Guard serving overseas; a video recording of the men and women played on the screen as the audience followed along.
Underwood told the crowd, “It’s so good to be back.” Her performance was followed by the anticipated grand finale, the firework show. Loud booms and the beautiful display of color erupted into the sky, ending the 32nd Stadium of Fire show.
“I think it’s amazing, not only for us to be celebrating America and what it’s all about,” Martinez said. “But to celebrate and come together as one. People coming from their homes, no matter what walk of life, and to just be here in this stadium and appreciate what we have in this country.”
Studio C, a popular sketch comedy show cast from BYUtv, kept the crowd laughing throughout the night. Other entertainment included the Stadium of Fire Dancers, Mimi Knowles, skydivers and Flippenout acrobatics.