by Yvette Mendoza, July 4, 2022
As community members in Huntsville gathered at Kate Barr Ross Park to celebrate July Fourth, smiles glistened off children’s faces, and relaxation ran through the parents’ bodies, knowing their children would have a safe and fun July fourth. There was fun for the LEAP Ambassadors as well, but our primary job was to volunteer for the City’s annual Fourth of July festivities.
We were working under the supervision of our friend, Isabel Behm, who has a City internship, and who was, in turn, working under the supervision of Kristy Wheeler and Penny Joiner. And there was a lot of supervision to give–hundreds of people came out to join the fun–fun that included a selfie station, face-painting, a rock wall, a bouncy house, candle-making, food vendors, and a dunking booth.
In fact, we took advantage of some of the fun. Before we got sweaty–or, before we got too sweaty–we made use of the selfie station, taking photos with props…
….and without props.
Others also took advantage of this station throughout the day.
Another big crowd pleaser was the rock-climbing wall. Reaching the top was quite an accomplishment, providing a workout, a lot of fun, and the sense that you could touch the clouds!
If citizens wanted to take out some aggression, they could also try the dunking booth. Local celebrities such as Glenn Edwards (KSAM), Aron Kulhavy (City Manager), Greg Mathis (Fire Chief)…
…and Penny Joiner (Director of Parks and Recreation) sat in the water seat, and for a dollar, people could get three tosses of a softball for an attempted dunking. Few people besides Kristy Wheeler hit the target honestly…
…but a lot of people took the opportunity to run up and use their hands to dunk the celebrity.
It’s possible that we did that to Aron Kulhavy a couple of times….
Thankfully, however, Mr. Kulhavy does not hold grudges, and he even took a selfie with us afterward–photobombed by a police officer!
Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the day was seeing the kids have fun at the event. Indeed, once they were cleared by us to go, they overflowed with excitement and headed straight to the fun activities. A fan favorite was the watermelon-eating contest…
…where one young person actually won twice!
Of course, the Ambassadors couldn’t sit out this event. Morgan and I were nervous and excited for this event, and it lived up to its billing. We dove into this event, doing our best to keep our hands behind our back, while not making too much of a mess. This was only partially successful.
Of course, it took me almost no time to recover from the loss and massive intake of watermelon; within seconds I was on my phone!
Although we lost the competition, we and the entire LEAP program got to see how different departments work together to build a better Huntsville community.
Of course, the watermelon contest wasn’t the only event. There was also face-painting by Lacy Wilkinson…
Another fan favorite was the bouncy-houses, which the kids loved (it’s possible some of us slid down the slide…).
And what do you think could top that entire afternoon? Fireworks, of course! The City put on a great show for the 1,000+ people who came out, and it was quite a show, building up to a grande finale.
It was a day to remember for us: the smell of fresh burgers, the fun of rock-climbing, the joy springing from each family that entered the park, and the beautiful fireworks helped bring a community spirit that is a part of living here.