Fort Oglethorpe to celebrate Independence Day with musical and pyrotechnic fireworks

Fort Oglethorpe to celebrate Independence Day with musical and pyrotechnic fireworks

June 28th, 2012 by Mike O'Neal in Catoosa

Patriotism at The Post will highlight the numbers 3, 4, 5 and 6 during this year's annual Independence Day celebration.

Staged July 3 to commemorate the Fourth of July, this is the fifth time in its six-year history that the day's finale will feature a professional fireworks extravaganza.

But before explosives light the sky, there will be plenty to entertain visitors - games, contests and food - attending this free event hosted by the Fort Oglethorpe Tourism Association.

The day's highlight will be a lengthy performance by the Tabernacle Big Band, a full 1940's-era dance band performing jazz and patriotic tunes as well as "Glenn Miller-style" swing arrangements.

"How can you not be ready to celebrate the 4th of July when we open the concert with Glenn Miller's 'In the Mood?'" band manager John Feezell asked.

All activities will take place at Barnhardt Circle, the spot that served as parade ground and polo field when Fort Oglethorpe was truly a military outpost and home to the U.S. 6th Cavalry.

Chris McKeever, executive director of the 6th Cavalry Museum and member of the Fort Oglethorpe Tourism Association, said the parking lot opens at 5:30 p.m. with scheduled activities beginning at about 7 p.m.


What: The sixth annual Patriotism at the Post, hosted by the Fort Oglethorpe Tourism Association and featuring the Tabernacle Big Band as well as fireworks.

Where: The polo field at Barnhardt Circle.

When: Tuesday, July 3. Parking lots open at 5:30 p.m., entertainment gets under way at 7 p.m.

Cost: Free. Parking at the polo field is $5 per vehicle. Concessions will be available.

Nice to know: Dogs are allowed to attend so long as they are kept on a short leash. Pet owners are responsible for cleaning up all animal waste.

Visitors may bring their own food, but barbecue, hot dogs and cold Pepsi products will be available on-site, and Erlanger at Hutcheson's Auxiliary will provide handicap shuttle service.

The evening will begin with children lining up on the bandstand to participate in the Patriotic Kids Contest.

"We are trying to find the boy and girl [12 or younger] with the most red, white and blue on as possible," McKeever said. "It can be the perfect way to start a family's Fourth of July celebrations."

Each winner will receive a $50 gift card.

Immediately following the Patriotic Kid Contest, winners of the Patriotic Kid's Coloring Contest, sponsored by Chattanooga Times Free Press, will be announced.

Coloring contest entries must be delivered to the 6th Cavalry Museum, located on Barnhardt Circle, by hand or by mail postmarked before June 29. First place in the coloring contest will receive a $50 gift card, with the second and third place entrants receiving $30 and $20, respectively.

Another activity for children will be an air-conditioned Rolling Video Games van containing 16 gaming consoles. Game coaches will be on-hand to help kids, who can purchase 15 minutes of play time for $5.

The Tabernacle Big Band is prepared to play all day, or at least until the sun goes down, according to Feezell, who in addition to being the band's manager is one of its four trumpet players.

"Our format is that of a Dorsey-era big band," he said. "The majority of the set will be instrumental. We'll play big band jazz and have vocalist on stage to help lead a sing-a-long - about five charts - of patriotic songs."

Feezell said he is scoring what he describes as "a journey through the music of wartime."

This extended piece, more suite than medley, will serve as a musical tour through the popular music heard by civilians, soldiers and sailors starting in World War I and moving through the year's of Desert Storm. But, like its swing-era models, the band also aims to get the crowd on their feet and dancing.

"It will be a whole lot of fun," Feezell said. "People can come down front, kick off their shoes and, rather than cut a rug, cut the grass."

There will be a brief intermission to allow dancers and onlookers to catch their breath, visit the concession stand and rearrange their seats before the first rocket streaks skyward and the light show begins.

"This is the third year that Atlanta Pyrotechnics will be staging our fireworks show," McKeever said. "They are very, very good.

"I tell people that if you want a fun event with fireworks, one where it is easy to get in and out after it's over, this is the one to come to."