The Fourth of July - What does it mean to you?
PRESCOTT - The temperature read 102 degrees as people swarmed to Pioneer Park this July 4th to celebrate freedom, family and apple pie.
The world's largest inflatable water slide provided relief to kids and adults alike, while a live band blasted "Proud Mary." Everyone kept their cool and sat under tents waiting for the evening's promised fireworks display.
"Whoever in America you are, you can celebrate," commented Brittany Harrison, 17, of Chino Valley. "July Fourth is meant to honor our independence and those who died. It's also all about the fireworks and the food - hot dogs and potato salad. It's all American."
Olga Alcantara was visiting with her family from Mexico City. Sitting in the shade, eating watermelon with chili powder, she explained that her friends invited her to the event. "They didn't explain what this was for, but said it is the biggest party in the United States," Alcantara said. "We're having fun and like seeing people having a good time."
"At my age, I don't have much to look forward to, but I look forward to this Fourth of July party," remarked Thom Fredericks of Prescott, who along with his wife Annie set up chairs and umbrellas to spend the afternoon. "This day is to celebrate our country's freedom and I enjoy spending it with my family," Annie commented. "We've been spending the past couple of years at Pioneer Park, and this is the greatest place."
"We've been from one end of the country to the other and now this is home," Fredericks explained. "I drove a truck and would spend July 4th wherever I ended up that day - Chicago, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Indiana. No other place celebrates like here. It is focused on children and adults enjoy it. It's wonderful that there are water rides - it is so hot, they are a life saver."
As the couple munched on pistachios, they were looking forward to the park's food offerings. "We love the barbecue beef, hamburgers - everything is good. But the best part is the fireworks," she added.
Over at the Ol' Country Pizza booth, Lyndell Browder of Prescott was preparing for a very busy evening. "We will be swamped tonight," he said. Browder, his wife and son make their pizza with a secret sauce and fresh ingredients, traveling across the state to events such as these.
"This is a side business," Browder explained. "We owned a pizza store in California and decided to keep it going here. For me, July Fourth represents the freedom we have. It is probably my favorite celebration because it is family time and time to reflect that God has enabled us to have this - it is God's gift to the world."
Many visitors mentioned their heritage as the meaning of July 4th. "For us, it is a tradition," commented Kim Barron of Prescott Valley, as she bought a big shaved ice for her son, Alex who is almost 7 years old. "Every year, we have a good time. I think this holiday is a celebration of our family and country."
Carlos Sanz, father of Julian, 11 and Aidan, 7, agreed. He watched Aidan tackle the climbing wall in his bare feet and said, "It's all about family getting together and having fun. I really enjoy the time off and of course, the fireworks." His son, Julian, added, "It is cool to see the fireworks and to celebrate our country being independent."
Contact the reporter at email@example.com