Freedom Fire 2017 lights up Logan skies (with video)

LOGAN — <em>“We are proud Americans, honest, kind and true…”</em>

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Surrounded by thousands of proud Americans in the USU Maverik Stadium Monday evening, a chorus of first graders from Wilson Elementary School led the <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Freedom Fire 2017</a> crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. The cheering spectators had already enjoyed preshow entertainment from <a href=”″ target=”_blank”>Aggie Voice 2017</a> winner Cade Mower and performances by <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Ryan Innes</a> and the <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Party Crashers</a>. Fireworks and a laser show were coming next.

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Freedom Fire is annual celebration of liberty and patriotism, hosted by Logan City Parks &amp; Recreation with the support of many community sponsors. The date of the event, July 3, also marked the celebration of Logan resident Megan Cowdin’s 32nd birthday. It’s become a family tradition to hold her party in the stadium.

“We come every year, and we’re on this edge every time,” said Cowdin’s mother, Cheryl Zesiger, seated in the stadium’s northeast corner. “We just love coming up here. I like the music, and we’re related through marriage to the people who set off the fireworks, <a href=”” target=”_blank”>Fireworks West</a>. Once we started coming inside, we’ve come every year. I just wish our two boys were with us this time.”

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As Cowdin danced in the stands with her three older sisters and her father, Jerry Zesiger, 12 of her parents’ 16 grandchildren held up a banner decorated with ‘Happy Birthday’ wishes. The family has spread geographically from the Zesigers’ home in Wellsville to Sandy, St. George and Houston, and Freedom Fire feels like a reunion.

“It’s just a fun family activity,” said Jerry Zesiger. “We do a dinner and the fireworks, and it’s a total experience, a whole package deal. And when we get our four girls—Nicky, Trina, Amy and Megan—together, it’s always a hoot.”

“It’s always a party,” Cowdin clarified, interrupting the conversation momentarily to high-five a member of the Party Crashers’ band. “A lot of us get together, so it’s always fun…and it’s my birthday, so that helps. I get so excited! Music is my thing. Once there’s a beat, I’m done.”

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The beat far from over, Party Crashers invited the crowd to sing along to pop and rock and roll hits like “Born in the USA”, “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Sweet Caroline”.

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As the sun began to set, the band ushered in Freedom Fire’s traditional patriotic program, performing all four verses of “The Star Spangled Banner” with an accompanying narration by the evening’s MC, Al Lewis. Lewis also asked members of each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces to stand, paying tribute to their military service.

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And then came the fireworks, a spectacular twenty-five minute display synchronized to favorite patriotic songs like “R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.”, “God Bless the USA”, “God Bless America” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.

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“I thought they were good,” said Alex Larson, a 2017 Logan High School graduate who attended Freedom Fire with friends. “I liked the band they brought out. It kind of brought the fireworks together. Sometimes, it’s a little sketchy on the band, but this year I thought it was really good. And the music with the fireworks went along perfectly this year.”

Linda Hager, visiting from Orem, thought Freedom Fire 2017 was outstanding. Her husband, Ronald Hager, is a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam.

“The program and the fireworks are outstanding every year and it stirs every bit of gratitude that I could possibly feel in me, for my love of country and of freedom and of God and family and all those good things that I would die for,” she said.

Like the Zesigers, Hager said Freedom Fire has become a family tradition.

“My daughter, Judy Dow, has our celebration at her house in Logan,” she said, “and then we walk up the hill to the fireworks. It’s a wonderful thing to do. We should celebrate every day! I know we can’t afford that many fireworks every day, but it makes you just swell with love. This is nice.”

Miriam Seylar, a summer citizen of Logan from Surprise, Arizona, also loves attending Freedom Fire.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “It feels like hometown ought to feel to me.”

<h3>Quotes from the crowd:</h3>

Hayden Nix (Mount Sterling): “It’s a good entertainment show overall. I like how exciting it is, how everyone gets all festive for it. You look around the valley at night, and you can see everyone celebrating with their families. It kind of brings out a little family get together, and I always love those. And everyone has their own personal fireworks. It’s a fireworks show everywhere you go.”

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Zach and Sarah Ames (Provo): “My parents were Aggies, and they’ve been bringing me here since I was tiny.” –Zach

“This is my first time being up here. The fireworks are definitely supposed to be amazing. I haven’t ever been to a formal fireworks show like this is today. I hear it’s pretty great, so I’m excited.” –Sarah

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Nick and Amy Bruun, Danielle Bruun (Salt Lake City): “I’m not a true veteran to Cache Valley, but my wife is. She grew up here, in Hyrum. I’ve never seen Freedom Fire before, and neither have our girls. It’s our first time. We’re the rookies.” –Nick

“We usually go sit in a parking lot somewhere, but I’ve wanted to bring these guys for several years so I said, ‘We’re just gonna do it this year. We’re gonna plan it, and nothing else goes on the calendar.’ I always loved it growing up, and I wanted them to come see it. It feels like my childhood. Instead of looking for some new tradition, it’s fun to go back to an old one and feel that again.” –Amy

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“Cade Mower is such a great singer! I’m so excited to be here.” –Danielle

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