Hundreds of residents and visitors filled Noyes Stadium and nearby streets in Paris on Wednesday, followed Thursday by crowds of young and old in downtown Paris for the Celebrate America Parade and later along Deport’s Main Street to celebrate the nation’s 243rd birthday.

In Paris, the celebration included patriotic music by the Paris Municipal Band, followed by a dazzling fireworks display.

“I come every year, and this is the best year they’ve had in a while,” concert attendee Linda Crittenden said. “They’re telling us the history of all the songs, and I like that.”

The band played several tunes, including the National Anthem and military branch themes, as well as traditional songs from the likes of John Philip Sousa and other prominent composers.

“It’s really good,” said first-time attendee Cody Henry, who is a staff sergeant and Army recruiter. “I was just thinking about how this is kind of a throwback; this is the sort of thing you would go to if it was around the turn of the century, and fairs and these type of things would be the main form of entertainment.”

Henry said he definitely plans on coming back in the future, and he would like to set up a recruitment booth when he does.

The best part of the night for Crittendon was watching children playing and having a good time.

“It warms my heart to see them playing around like that,” she said.

The night carried a more sentimental meaning for attendee Pete Wright, who was reminded of her family’s military service.

“I remember when the boys left for Normandy, and my momma said, your little brother and sister, they may never see again,” Wright said. “My son’s retired from the Navy and Coast Guard too. That’s why I’m patriotic and why I’ll die for this country.”

Deport fills for Freedom Festival

Project Deport’s Freedom Festival celebrated the Fourth of July with carnival games, a raffle, a waterslide and a 12-minute fireworks show — known for being among the best in the county.

Younger attendees had opportunities to play games like jelly fishing, bean bag toss or the kangaroo race, while adults entered a raffle to win one of several prizes: five American flag kits, a patio set or a canopy swing. There also was a cake walk inside the Hale Glover Community Center, with local baked goods available as prizes. Outdoor refreshment options included a Kona Ice truck, barbecue served at the American Legion center and a tent serving cotton candy.

But the biggest attraction of the evening was the fireworks show, the best fireworks show in the county, according to Project Deport member Julia Grossmann.

“This is definitely one of the biggest events we do,” she said. “People come from all over to see the fireworks, because ours is one of the best.”

Project Deport member Crystal Folse said she was happy with the turnout for the festival and encouraged everyone to enjoy the refreshments, spend time with friends and family and buy raffle tickets.

Tommy Culkin is a staff writer for The Paris News. He can be reached at 903-785-6972 or at

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