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East Texas to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks, parades, music

Fireworks, music and patriotic activities are among the ways the Tyler area is celebrating the Fourth of July.

The city of Tyler will host a free celebration beginning at 4 p.m. Thursday in Lindsey Park, 12557 Spur 364 West. It will have a kids play area, food concessions and fireworks.

Brandon Bamburg will perform beginning about 5:30 p.m.

The park will be closed until 2 p.m so officials can prepare for the event, according to information from the city. People cannot bring alcohol or fireworks into the park or smoke in the park.

When the park opens, Tyler Transit will offer free rides to it with departures about every 30 minutes from Harvey Convention Center, 2000 W. Front St.; Tyler Junior College West Campus, 1530 SSW Loop 323; and Tyler ISD offices, 1319 Earl Campbell Parkway, according to a news release.

The Celebrate America Independence Day Fireworks Show is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, 13590 Texas Highway 110, south of Tyler. The free event includes refreshments, games, entertainment, a salute to the armed forces, the band 6 Miles to Mixon and a fireworks show.

Marvin United Methodist Church, 300 W. Erwin St., will have a free concert of patriotic music at 4 p.m. Thursday. The concert will feature music by the Marvin Chancel choir, organist Jonathan Story, the Rose City Brass and the Marvin Herald Trumpets.

Lago del Pino, a restaurant and music venue at 14706 County Road 1139 in Tyler, will have a celebration beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday that will include music by Dustin Becker, a hot dog and hamburger buffet, and a fireworks show. Admission costs $20 for adults and $10 for children 5-12.


The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, 5550 FM 2495, Athens, will hold a free fireworks show on the Fourth of July. Admission into the center will be free after 5 p.m.


Canton Chamber of Commerce and First Monday Trade Days will sponsor patriotic events on Thursday. A parade will step off at 6:30 p.m. downtown and a free fireworks show will begin at dark on the west side of the First Monday Trade Days grounds.


Residents in the Chandler area can celebrate Independence Day with free activities in Winchester Park beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday. Events will include a patriotic bike parade for children at 8 p.m. and a fireworks show.


First Baptist Church, 9714 FM 314, Edom, will present Freedom in Edom beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the church. Attractions include family activities, free hot dogs, snow cones and popcorn; and a fireworks show.


Lake Jacksonville Association will launch fireworks from a barge on the lake beginning about 9 p.m. Thursday. A good viewing area is the Lake Jacksonville Concession Area on Byrd Road.


A free celebration is set for Thursday in Kilgore City Park beginning at 6 p.m. The Fourth of July Extravaganza will include food vendors, water slides, children’s activities, a concert by the Chad Cooke Band and fireworks.

Lake Palestine

Bella Vista, a venue at 22424 Texas Highway 155 South, on Lake Palestine, will have a free celebration beginning at 4 p.m. Thursday. On the grounds will be bounce houses, food trucks, music and activities for children. A fireworks show will take place at dark.

After the fireworks show will be a party with live music. Admission will be charged to the party.


Overton’s Fireworks in the Park will take place Thursday in City Park. Vendor booths, food concessions and children’s activities will open at 3 p.m. Participants are asked to use the parking lot at the Community Center and a designated field. The fireworks will be shot off over the lake.


The KYYK 4th of July Celebration begins at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Reagan Park, 709 Crockett Road, Palestine. Attractions include a patriotic parade, holiday costume contest and talent show.


Fire in the Sky With Troup First Baptist Church is set for 5 p.m. Friday at the church, 17941 North Highway 135, Troup.

The free event will have refreshments, activities, carnival rides and a message from the pastor. The event will end with a fireworks show.


In Winnsboro, the July 4 activities will start with a parade at 4:30 p.m. Thursday on Main Street. Other attractions will include a bounce house, activities for kids, concessions and a performance by Dale Cummings. Fireworks at City Park will begin at dark.

Families come together thanks to flights between Tyler and Denver

Rita Hargrove bought a one-way ticket from Tyler to Denver at a discount rate and doesn’t know when she’ll book a return trip.

Hargrove, 68, lives in Timpson, which is near Nacogdoches. She said she decided to fly out of Tyler because it’s closer than Dallas, and she was able to get a direct ticket at a low price.

She’s headed to Frederick, Colorado, which is about 30 miles northeast of Denver, to see her son, daughter-in-law, and three grandkids. The middle grandchild just underwent surgery and will be in recovery for three weeks.

Hargrove was one of nearly 180 people who bought tickets on Frontier Airlines’ first flight from Tyler Pounds Regional Airport to Denver International Airport. The Tuesday flight took off around 5 p.m.

The plane was a twin-engine Airbus 320, a commercial airliner with 186 seats. That’s about four times the size of the American Airlines plane that Kelsey Husted, the spokeswoman for Frontier, said she flew into Tyler earlier that day for the occasion.

Until Tuesday, American was the only airline offering flights out of Tyler. The company’s direct flight gets passengers to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, where they can connect to other flights.

“We offer low fares that can get you nonstop to Denver,” Frontier’s Husted said. “You can get more people out on that flight, and we can get to more destinations from there.” The airline, which is headquartered in Denver, offers connecting flights all over the world.

The Tyler airport has opened itself up to bigger planes, and therefore more airlines, after finishing reconstruction and rehabilitation of a runway at the end of 2018. The majority of the tens of millions of dollars spent on the project came from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The city continues to move forward with upgrades to the airport. The airport director has said the space could easily accommodate five airlines, and last week the FAA announced another grant for the city to update its airport master plan.

John Haft, 51, of Tyler, and his 9-year-old son, Travis, were among those waiting at the gate for the flight to Denver. The two were headed there for a five-day trip.

“The rates initially were cheap, and I have really good friends in Colorado Springs that I haven’t seen in a long time,” Haft said.

“We don’t have any real plans, just seeing some friends,” he said. “Hopefully do some hiking, see some mountains, enjoy the cooler weather.” Meanwhile, Travis said he is excited to watch fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Jennifer Benner, 47, of Tyler, said she was headed to Denver for a week on a girls trip with her three daughters and niece, ages 16 to 22.

“It was cheap, and it was just easier not to have to drive two hours to the airport” at DFW, Benner said.

The flight out of Tyler left about an hour and a half after the first flight from Denver landed at 3:20 p.m.

When the arriving passengers walked out of the gate, community leaders and top government officials greeted them with balloons and applause.

Melinda Draschil, 36, of Utah, was one of those roughly 90 incoming passengers. She said she was so surprised by the reception that, while she was walking, she kept looking behind her to see if someone famous was on the flight.

Draschil said she flew to Tyler because her husband’s family is from here. He and the kids rode separately, on a 24-hour drive from Utah.

“I’m so glad we can fly to Tyler, and we don’t have to fly to Dallas,” Draschil said.



Smith County's license plate readers used to recover stolen vehicles, find people sought by other agencies

License plate readers that the Smith County government purchased last fall have been successful, an official with the sheriff’s office said Tuesday.

Chief Deputy Jimmy Jackson told the Smith County Commissioners Court that the readers have helped recover more than 20 stolen cars and a semitrailer, and have been used to help state and federal agencies track people down.

“We had another incident where Child Protective Services had contacted us trying to locate some people trying to remove some children from a home, trying to locate a vehicle,” Jackson said. “We actually utilized that system and located those people for Child Protective Services through that.

“As recently as last week (the system) was able to identify a suspect and a vehicle that the DEA was looking for in a narcotics investigation,” he said, referring to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. “So we’re continuing to use them and they’re continuing to prove valuable.”

When the Commissioners Court approved buying the technology by a 4-1 vote in September, County Judge Nathaniel Moran and Commissioner Jeff Warr asked the sheriff’s office to return in six months for an update.

Jackson said Tuesday there was some delay in setting up the technology from Vigilant Solutions, so it has been operating about five or six months.

Moran was absent Tuesday as Commissioner Terry Phillips listened to the update with interest.

“We haven’t picked up any low-level marijuana users?” Phillips asked.

Jackson responded: “Not to my knowledge, not unless someone had some in one of those stolen cars.”