Fort Stewart celebrated America’s 236th birthday Wednesday with a day-long party that began at Newman Field with a show, rides, games and food and ended at Donovan Field with a concert and fireworks.
Soldiers, veterans, family members and the public celebrated July 4 with an all-day birthday party called “Worth Fighting For” Independence Day celebrations. The events, which began at 10 a.m. and ended 12 hours later, were sponsored by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
Water activities for kids included slides, tag and “misting palms.” There also was an exotic petting zoo that included a camel, donkey, zebra, bunny, dwarf bull, fawn, kangaroo and parrot.
Rides and inflatables included the “Mutiny on the Bouncer” slide, a trampoline swing, a climbing wall and a mechanical bull.
Emily Sicely, 10, failed to stay on the bull more than a few seconds, but her uncle, Pfc. Josh Hayes, 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, said she enjoyed the short ride. At least she didn’t get hurt, he added.
Face painting and a water-gun competition course were among favorite children’s activities, but the event that drew the largest crowds was the Disc-Connected K9’s, World Famous Frisbee Dogs Show from Jacksonville.
“Let me begin by saying every dog you see here today has been rescued or adopted,” said show owner and trainer Lawrence Frederick.
The first dog introduced was called Hyper Hyzer, a white mixed terrier Frederick said was recently rescued and the newest member of the show. He led Hyper through several tricks with the Frisbee, including jumping over Frederick’s back to retrieve a disc.
Frederick’s wife, Jodi, then led Flash, a border collie, through a series of tricks, including flipping in the air as she caught the Frisbee in her jaws and leaping high to catch a disc before it reached the crowds of adults and children who formed a human wall around the show area.
“We rescued a dog while we were at Fort Stewart,” Frederick said later. “Her name is Ginger. She seems to be a lab-border collie mix.”
Frederick explained the workout his dogs go through also put him, Jodi and other trainers through some strenuous activities. He’s had rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders in recent years and had to have surgery on his foot only three weeks before a world championship competition. Five of their dogs placed eighth or better, one second place.
The Hinesville Military Affairs Committee’s food court drew in large crowds as soldiers and family members waited in line for free meals. Hot dogs, sausage dogs and hamburgers were not the only items on the menu. Baldinos gave out sandwiches, Glennville’s Rusty Pig BBQ offered pulled pork sandwiches with all the trimmings and Caldwell Banker & Holtzman Realtors handed out bags of popcorn.
Hinesville First Baptist Church and Savannah Christian Church gave out snack foods, and Vaden Nissan handed out slices of birthday cake, while The Heritage Bank, Kroger and other organizations and businesses provided sandwiches, chips, pretzels and drinks.
“We’ve been doing this for nine years,” said Melanie Schneider, HMAC’s official “Yellow Bow Lady.” “It would be great if our younger veterans and members of the community would step up and help out for next year’s event. It’s not just a one-day event. It takes a lot of planning, and the food doesn’t get out here by itself.”
Rising afternoon temperatures drove many people into shade and indoor activities, causing the crowds to wane. Some found in a bingo game in an air-condition tent next to the food court. Others checked out MWR facilities, Post Exchange and the commissary as they waited for the evening’s concert.
The concerts began on Donovan Field around 5 p.m., with first performance by Southern Rock band Mockingbird Sun, then singer/songwriter Mario, who was followed by the featured act, country singer Martina McBride.
Immediately at the conclusion of the concert, the skies over Stewart erupted with colorful sparks. The half-hour fireworks display wowed adults and left children awe-struck.