Easthaven Patriotic Picnic planned for 4th

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2008

There will be no need to travel out of Brookhaven this Fourth ofJuly to enjoy an afternoon of lounging on the green for a fireworksshow, thanks to Easthaven Baptist Church.

On Sunday, June 29, beginning at 5 p.m., the church will hostits second annual Patriotic Picnic, a family-oriented evening ofevents that consists of plenty of food, games, music andfireworks.

Easthaven Student and Family Pastor Hampton Sims said the picnicis dedicated to providing quality Christian entertainment forBrookhaven and Lincoln County residents who will not be travelingduring the Independence Day holidays.

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“We just want to provide families a safe place to celebrate Godand country,” he said. “Our purpose in this event is simply tominister to and connect with our community.”

Sims said Easthaven decided to host the event last year becauseof a lack of local Fourth of July events.

“We found a couple of years ago that there just wasn’t yet anevent like this for families to celebrate Independence Day in anenvironment conducive to them,” he said. “We felt like it wasimportant to bring the community’s families together.”

Building on last year’s picnic, the church has added new eventssuch as a model airplane airshow, and is currently working tosecure the Ole Brook Wind Ensemble and contemporary Christianartist Alan Asbury.

Sims said the Patriotic Picnic will have events that every agegroup can enjoy. For children, there will be games and inflatableplay-pens – “jumpers.” For teenagers, the games will be moreinteractive. For senior citizens, Sims said, the musical guestswill devote part of their performances to the rendition of classicChristian music and hymnals.

And, of course, the fireworks show is for everyone.

“We’re really gonna have a little something for everybody,” Simssaid.

The Patriotic Picnic will also feature plenty of opportunitiesfor face-stuffing, as the church will be providing free hotdogs andchips and both Mitchell’s and Broma’s Deli will be on hand to sellplates. Still, Sims said, people are encouraged to bring a sacklunch.

Sims said 80 to 100 volunteers work months in advance to makethe Patriotic Picnic possible. Last year, the appreciation of theirwork was evidenced in the attendance, and Easthaven is preparingfor more in 2008.

“Last year we about 1,500 on the church campus, and this yearwe’re expecting as many as 2,000,” said Easthaven member KennyGoza. “We also had a multitude of people who parked on the side ofHighway 84 to watch the fireworks, and with that traffic, thenumbers could have been anywhere.”

Traffic backup is a common occurrence for the fireworks shows ofD & D Pyrotechnics, owned by Monticello Mayor Dave Nichols. Notonly did he and his staff slow down Highway 84 at Easthaven’spicnic last year, Nichols said his team has brought Interstate 55to a standstill in the past while performing at the FirstPentacostal Church in Byram.

Nichols said the show is painstakingly planned, withapproximately 8 hours going into the setup of the 15- to 18-minute,musically choreographed display of more than 150 fireworks. Withmany of the fireworks containing multiple breaks into separatedisplays, Nichols said the entire show will have as many as 1,000explosions.

“We always start off kind of slow, then we bring it up, take itback down and then finish with what we call our ‘rip’ – we put alot of stuff in the air at the end,” Nichols said.