Independence Day celebration




Finnup Park and Lee Richardson Zoo were popular attractions on Friday, as people gathered to celebrate the Fourth of July.

The Mesa family were among those who gathered in Finnup Park to celebrate the holiday. About 30 had gathered at a picnic area.

It's something they do every year, Lucinda Kottas of Garden City said.

"This is about half the size that it normally is," Lynn Trevino of Dodge City said. "We've got some people missing."

As music played in the background, Joe Kottas described all of the food they were cooking on the grill.

"We've got shiskabobs, chicken, steak, pork chops, bratwursts," Kottas said.

Kottas was giving 12-year-old Johb Silva a hard time about which fireworks he was going to shoot off, telling him it was going to be snakes and sparklers.

"Snakes are a waste man," Johb said. "My favorite is the artillery shells."

Eleven-year-old Abby Parr likes shooting off rockets.

When asked what the Fourth of July means to her, Abby said, "Spending time with my family."

Asked the same question, 14-year-old Calvin Kottas laughed and said, "It's a celebration of us kicking Britain's hiney."

Jose Sanchez's family was also gathered for a family picnic in Finnup park.

"I worked today so it wasn't a free day, but now, we're going to watch the fireworks and just hang out," Sanchez said. "The food is just a bonus because of the Fourth."

His wife Diana Sanchez brought a pan full of meatballs, and there were chips and finger foods filling their picnic tables, as other family members played volleyball.

Maggie Casanova and her 4-year-old daughter Elaina Casanova, both of Garden City, were watching the game.

When asked what the Fourth of July means to her, Casanova said, "Family, getting together and celebrating, having a good time and eating."

Several families strolled through the zoo Friday afternoon, including 5-year-old Olivia Betancourt of McAllen, Texas, who was excited about seeing the animals.

"We saw the lions and monkeys," she said.

Her brother, 12-year-old Jesse Betancourt, said that, for him, the Fourth of July means "fun and fireworks."

Sonia and Juan Carlo Hernandez, and their 5-year-old daughter Alondra, who was dressed from head to toe in red, white and blue bows, were also taking a stroll through the zoo.

"Someone made it for me," Alondra said of her outfit.

Her T-shirt said, "I sparkle so much, I could be a firework."

"And my necklace says something," Alondra said, as she showed it off.

It read, "Little Miss Independent."

The Municipal Band concert started at 8 p.m. on the west green of the zoo, where many people gather every year to watch the aerial fireworks display, which always begins after sundown.

Mary Schwartz and Lindsey Schwartz of Garden City, were also taking a stroll through the zoo, prior to taking their spots on the west green to watch fireworks.

"My husband's cutting wheat, finishing his harvest so we're free to do what we want," Mary Schwartz said, laughing.

When asked what the Fourth of July means to her, Lindsey said, "Fun."

Beth Tedrow, who plays the clarinet with the Municipal Band, along with her daughter, Chelle Tedrow, Lawrence Hoerman and Ellen Thiemann arrived early to hang up red, white and blue banners around the stage and to set up all of the instruments.

Clay and Marsha Wright and their son, Tyler Wright, also arrived at the west green early to set up their picnic table.

"We're setting up to watch the concert and having a potluck with some friends," Marsha Wright said.

She said that they come watch the Municipal Band and the fireworks every year.

"And we go, 'Ooh, aah,'" she said, laughing. "It's these two's favorite holiday."

When asked what the Fourth of July means to him, Clay Wright said it's a celebration of America's independence from Great Britain.

Tyler Wright said, "It definitely reminds me that being an American is an amazing privilege."

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