Long holiday tradition

Today, the event is called Freedom Fest, but the town’s patriotic traditions harken back to 1894. The party begins this year at noon at the Aquatic Center and moves to Heritage Park at 5 p.m.

FLORENCE — On July Fourth, the town of Florence will host its 127th annual Independence Day celebration.

The event kicks off at high noon at the Aquatic Center and then transitions over to Heritage Park from 5 to 9 p.m. with food trucks, live music, splash zones and a cornhole tournament benefiting the Florence High School baseball team. Fireworks begin at 8:30 p.m.

Admission is free to the Aquatic Center with the donation of a back-to-school item. Enjoy two giant outdoor slides, beach entry, the DJ and more.

At 5 p.m., the free party gets cranked up when the Freedom Stage kicks off with Pride Through Strife. PTS has shared the stage with Dirty Heads, Fortunate Youth, Authority Zero, Black Uhuru and more. Their fusion of reggae, alternative rock, funk and positivity has been called a breath of fresh air.

The Jack, the ultimate tribute to AC/DC, hits the Freedom Stage next, and according to the Arizona Daily Star, is “the very best live performance of AC/DC you will ever see… next to the real thing!” This five-piece band has rocked Whisky a Go Go, The River Run, The Historic Rialto Theatre and Alice Cooperstown Farewell Show.

The Jack opens their show at The Rialto Theater in Tucson, AZ 11-5-2016 with Thunderstruck!

Mr. Skynyrd — presenting the ultimate Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute experience — closes out the Freedom Stage. John Giles, marketing director for Mazatzal Hotel & Casino, stated, “Mr. Skynyrd rocked the house! Mr. Skynyrd’s authentic look and sound are unmatched by any Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band performing today.”

Members: Randy Archer-lead vocals Tim Hill-guitar Rob Moldovan-guitar Thomas Coury-guitar John Radcliffe-bass Rick Pierce-drums Debbie Moldovan-vocals Kat Dempsey-vocals

This year’s patriotic salute is sponsored by American Legion Post 9 and will include posting the colors and a military tribute. The memorial salute is dedicated to Signalman 3rd Class George Feliz, who served in the Navy during World War II. He was a Florence man through and through and fought at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and after two days and nights in the water, after his ship sank, he was picked up by a landing ship, tank.

Feliz was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation and the Asiatic/Pacific Campaign Medal.

Special Thanks: Florence Fire & Medical Department and CERT Team, Florence Police Department, American Legion Post 9, Florence High School Baseball Boosters, Aquatic Center Staff and the town of Florence Council.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.