Thousands fill Romney Stadium for Freedom Fire

LOGAN— An estimated 15,000 people filed into Romney Stadium Tuesday evening to watch local bands, the biggest firework show in Cache Valley, and legendary rock band Kansas.

Despite another day with stifling hot temperatures, some people arrived more than three hours before the gates opened in anticipation of getting the best general admission seats – those in the southwest corner that get shade the quickest.

Some patrons even traveled from well outside the valley for the show.

Rebecca Mikkelsen and her 17-year-old daughter Eva traveled up from Hooper, set up some lawn chairs near the front of the line, and spent two hours prior to the gates opening crocheting.

“She’s at that age where you drag them along, and they have to go, and they might not like it, but they have to do it anyway,” Mikkelsen said of bringing her daughter along. “We want the shady seats.”

Hyrum resident, 24-year-old Jamie Corbridge, showed up even earlier and was at the very front of her line. She said she was waiting in line to save a spot in the handicap seating area for her 77-year-old grandmother.

To pass the time, Corbridge, who was joined by her sister, Jessica Clayburn, said they had been playing Phase 10. She also said they had tried to log on to the USU Wi-Fi – unsuccessfully.

“We have to sit near the wheelchair seating because (my grandma) can’t sit down and can’t be in the sun very long,” Corbridge said. “It’s nice to be early and get the shade.”

The festivities officially kicked off at 7 p.m. with local band Mile Marker 6. The country cover band had the crowd rocking with hits such as “Country Girl, Shake it for Me,” and “Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Utah State Universities’ Big Blue even got into the mix, dancing with fans and posing for photos.

Following the opening act, the Cache Valley Diary Princesses, Miss Cache Valley, and other winners were introduced. The America Sings! song and dance group also performed, as well as the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra.

Finally, around 8:30 p.m., the legendary rock group Kansas took the stage much to the delight of the thousands in attendance. Despite their rocking roots, the show was rather mellow, but ended with a rousing rendition of “Carry on my Wayward Son.”

With the fire danger being so high, the room of the USU training complex in the north end zone of the stadium was doused with water for the firework show. Similarly, the brush-covered hillside in the northeast corner of the stadium was also soaked with water. However, around 10 p.m., the fireworks began, and went off without a hitch.

“It’s always a good time at the stadium with all your good friends, great views – overall, it’s just a wonderful time. We love it,” said Smithfield resident Rigo Chaparro. “It’s a great time with friends and neighbors. We’ve done it outside before and all you see is the fireworks, you hear the noise, but really, you need to have this experience.”

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