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Freedom Fest a July Fourth tradition

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 45th Space Wing invites base employees, their family and friends to celebrate this year's Independence Day at the annual Patrick AFB Freedom Fest celebration at Chevron Park on the banks of the scenic Banana River. 

Hosted by the 45th Services Division, this year's bash promises to be one of the best the base has ever held. First rate entertainment, excellent food, fun activities for your children and absolutely one of the most thunderous and colorful fireworks displays you will ever witness, guarantee a memorable occasion for our military community. 

"Not only is this an excellent opportunity for everyone to have a fun, family-oriented day and evening, but it's also a great way to celebrate our nation's 231st birthday and to express our appreciation for all the sacrifices our troops, past and present, have made to keep our nation free and safe," said Leiane Roche, 45th SVD event coordinator. 

The excitement kicks off at 6 p.m., featuring an opening ceremony with the Base Honor Guard, the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner," an invocation and opening remarks by the 45th SW Commander. Shortly afterwards, the live band "Snapshot" will start rockin' the river with classic Motown hits. 

Come hungry and thirsty. Food and beverage concessions, featuring bratwursts, pulled pork, hamburgers, turkey legs, chips and soda, along with a full-service bar and beer garden will be available 6-9 p.m. Door prizes will be awarded throughout the evening. 

There will be plenty to keep the children entertained in the Kids' Zone. Face painting by "Dot the Clown," a trampoline bungee jump, inflatable activities and a climbing wall are featured. 

There will be great photo opportunities, too. Disney says there's no way Mickey and Minnie Mouse would miss the Freedom Fest. Gatorland is even sending over a live alligator! Also, your children will really enjoy the pony rides, available until dusk. 

Additionally, the Bowling Center is open from noon till 5 p.m. and everyone will receive two free games. Outdoor Recreation's Family Pool is offering free admission from noon till 6 p.m. The climax of Freedom Fest will be the visually and audibly spectacular fireworks display, starting at 9:30 p.m., which will light up the night sky and shake the ground. 

Again this year, local area businesses are doing their part to make Freedom Fest a success. "We would like to thank Disney, Toyota of Melbourne, Space Coast Credit Union and Gatorland for helping to support this event. Their participation has helped to ensure that Patrick's 4th of July festivities will be a memorable occasion for everyone," said Chuck Nolan, 45th SVD director of marketing and publicity. 

To keep the event happy and safe, participants should adhere to the following guidelines. No fireworks, pets or personal coolers will be allowed. Please party responsibly and if you drink, don't drive. Use a designated driver. If festivities are delayed or interrupted due to a Phase 1 lightning warning, attendees must seek shelter in their cars, not tents or pavilions, and wait for the "All Clear." 

No federal endorsement of sponsors intended.