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July 4, 2014

Dalton celebrates the Fourth

Hundreds enjoy festivities at annual event

Not many things are more American than a home run.

And it was a man who hit plenty of them Friday night that may have best summed up the Fourth of July holiday.

“We get to celebrate our country’s independence, and everyone gets to come together for a good time and put a smile on their faces,” said Danny Callaway, who hit five dingers, on five pitches, en route to a home run derby victory at the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department’s annual Fourth of July Celebration at Heritage Point Park.

Indeed there were lots of big smiles Friday night — from couples lounging under shade trees; from home run hitters and beauty pageant winners; from parents chasing children on the playground and from the youngsters temporarily evading them.

The Heritage Point complex was a beehive of activity.

Funnel cakes, boiled peanuts and shaved ice were popular fare — except, perhaps, for the brave souls scarfing down more Little Debbie Cakes and Krystal hamburgers than any one person should, during eating competitions. Jungle gyms, inflatables and any place drenched in shade proved fashionable hangouts; and red, white and blue shirts and accessories dominated the landscape.

Emblazoned in their own patriotic attire — pins, bandanna, red, white and blue sailor hat and star-spangled sunglasses — Tommie and Shewanda Blackman took a break from festivities to talk about what they most loved about the July holiday.

“I like to celebrate the freedom that we have here in this country,” said Tommie Blackman, enjoying the Fourth for a first time at Heritage Point. “A lot people do not have what we do.”

“I have a lot of family who have served our country. This is a day that my family and I can get out and remember the past, and also look forward to our future,” Shewanda Blackman said.

The married couple, who have lived in Dalton for the past three years, said they had a wonderful time battling on the bag toss boards — as part of a tournament — and were looking forward to fireworks.

Originally from different parts of the country (Tommie, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Shewanda, Memphis, Tenn.), the couple said there were blown away by the community event and its attendees.

“It is wonderful to see so many people come together, like they do here. You really get to know people,” Shewanda Blackman said. “We don’t have any family here. So it’s been very refreshing to meet so many people who have been so approachable and friendly.”

All told, hundreds of people converged on the Heritage Point complex Friday night.

Many enjoyed a schedule of events that included a disc-golf tournament, a professional wrestling show and the annual Little Miss Rec Pageant

Of course, the big draw came when the sun went down.

“We’re here to enjoy the fireworks, more than anything,” said Darrell Reed, who, like many others, staked out a favorite viewing spot early in the afternoon. “It’s been a lot of fun letting the kids run around and just hanging out.”

According to Steve Card, director for Dalton Parks and Recreation, Friday night’s fireworks show was one of the largest in north Georgia.

Fireworks fans will be able to enjoy a second show this weekend, just down the road.

In Chatsworth today, the Murray County Parks and Recreation Department will host its annual Fourth of July celebration beginning at 3 p.m. A slew of games and activities, and plenty of food, will be available for park guests, Murray County Parks Administrative Assistant LaRhonda Harrison said.

Fireworks are expected to begin shortly after dark, at about 9:30 p.m., at the park on Chestnut Street.

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