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Fort Smith to host free fireworks show at Ben Geren Park for Veterans Day

Times Record - 11/6/2018

Nov. 06--After less-than-stellar Fourth of July fireworks, Fort Smith is hosting a free show as part of the city's Veterans Day events.

"The Fourth of July fireworks this year were quite a disappointment. I made that known to the fireworks company, and they have offered to make good on it," said Mayor Sandy Sanders at the Aug. 21 Board of Directors meeting. "So they are providing a free show to make up for it. That will be held in conjunction with the bicentennial and Veterans Day."

Sanders said the fireworks provider, J&M Displays, apologized for the work of the crew -- it is no longer at the company -- at the city's July 4 celebration. Fort Smith will now get a show choreographed to music at no cost, Sanders said.

"We've never had anything like this," Sanders said. "We've always focused on the Avenue of Flags program at the national cemetery."

The city will still hold its annual event at the cemetery, but due to the holiday being on a Sunday, it will be at 2 p.m. as to not interfere with local church services, Sanders said. There will be a shuttle running from the convention center from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. to help ease parking.

Across town at Ben Geren Park, in conjunction with the 188th Wing of the United States Air Force, there will be food trucks, bounce houses and a flight simulator starting at 3 p.m. It will also have a time for veteran recognition.

The "pyromusical fireworks salute," set up between Parrot Island Waterpark and the tennis courts, will be the day's finale. Sanders said the show should be viewable anywhere at the park and various points around the city. Residents can listen to the show using the J&M Displays mobile app or on one of three local radio stations.

Sanders said the city could have chosen any day to hold the fireworks show but thought Veterans Day would be ideal. It's a significant holiday, and it would help mark the end of most of the bicentennial celebrations for the year, he said.

"Veterans day is so important to Fort Smith," Sanders said. "Fort Smith has a very strong tie to our military folks, to our veterans, so we thought that it would be an excellent conclusion to our normal veterans day recognition program."

Fort Smith Communications Manager Karen Santos said in an email that the day's events were previously held jointly with Sebastian County, but it is not this year.

A Veterans Day parade and celebration is also scheduled for a seventh year at the Chaffee Crossing Historic District on Saturday. The day will begin with a medals presentation at 11 a.m., a parade at noon and recognition ceremony at 1:30 p.m.

There will be food trucks, veteran informational booths, vintage military vehicles, helicopter rides and art displays. Guests can get flu shots, and the event will be an opportunity for residents to donate coats, blankets, hats and other cold-weather gear for veterans.


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