March 26, 2013 10:12:30 AM
Carmen K. Sisson - [email protected]
Columbus Air Force Base officials are planning a Fourth of July fireworks show after a four-year hiatus.
Col. Jim Sears, commander of the 14th Flying Training Wing, made the announcement amid a spate of fanfare Monday at the overlook on the east bank of the John C. Stennis Lock and Dam in Columbus.
The site will also serve as the location for the free holiday event, which is a joint effort between CAFB, the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Lowndes County and the City of Columbus.
Plans are still being developed for the professional fireworks show, and CAFB officials said it was too early to determine a cost-estimate for the event or details about the number or types of fireworks that will be used. Children's activities, along with live entertainment, will begin around 4 p.m., and the fireworks will begin approximately 30 minutes after the sun sets. Food and drink vendors will be available.
CAFB began holding community-wide Fourth of July celebrations in 2006, but they were unable to do so in 2010 and 2011.
This year, the show will go on, despite -- or perhaps in spite of -- sequestration. At the beginning of the year, United States Air Force Secretary Michael Donley stated in an internal memo that the sweeping budget cuts would include a reduction in non-critical and non-combat flying hours, with all air show appearances and ceremonial flyovers nixed until further notice.
CAFB's Fourth of July show allows the base to hold a first-class event for the community without spending Air Force dollars, CAFB Public Affairs Chief Rick "Sonic" Johnson said Monday night.
"The Air Force likes to take the lead on this patriotic celebration," Johnson said.
Because the holiday falls on a Thursday, the timing is odd, he said, but for families that like to go out of town for the holiday, the Thursday night celebration offers the best of both worlds, kicking off the holiday weekend in style.
Business sponsors are actively being sought for the event, CVB Executive Director Nancy Carpenter said Monday in a news release issued by CAFB.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.