FARMINGTON — The Farmington area celebrated Independence Day in the most quintessentially American ways Thursday, with fireworks, a parade and residents gathering together to enjoy the holiday.
At Brookside Park, hundreds of people relaxed in the warmth under smoky skies caused by a large wildfire near Pagosa Springs, Colo. Vendors sold shaved ice, hot dogs and Navajo tacos while attendees took in live music.
Darrell and Krystena Priddy brought their three children and a Chihuahua to the park.
"A lot of people came out this year," Darrell Priddy said.
Each year, the family stakes out a spot near the stage. This year, they brought an open-air tent to provide shelter from the sun.
"It's our favorite holiday of the year," Darrell Priddy said. "Hopefully, it celebrates the veterans and the active duty (service members), and the things they provide for us."
Children flocked to a bungee trampoline station, where the entry cost was $7. A small vehicle pulled a train full of children. Several groups came to share their points of view, including the Democratic and Republican parties.
Jerry Smiley, director of the Farmington chapter of the Christian Motorcyclist Association, came out to the park for about the 10th year.
"We try to present the Gospel to people in a very practical way," he said.
Smiley said he has more trust in average Americans than in the country's politicians.
"We're really going in the wrong direction as far as our leadership, but I do feel the majority of people in America are good, God-fearing people," he said.
The Farmington Police Department brought its mobile command unit to the park. There, Cmdr. Cliff Washburn said events in Egypt, where a military coup has removed the president, has made him particularly grateful for Americans' freedom this year.
"The Fourth is when we celebrate our independence and those things we treasure most," he said.
For police, the holiday weekend often means calls to respond to drunken driving and domestic violence.
"People get together and they drink and they don't always get along," he said.
Farmington is unusual in that it hosts two fireworks shows. The first, on July 3, is spearheaded by the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau. The second, on July 4, is launched by local resident Tommy Bolack, a licensed explosives handler.
Bolack said fireworks are meant to imitate the mortars and shells that helped win America's independence. On the afternoon of the nation's 237th birthday, Bolack was busy readying fuses on a hill that overlooks Farmington.
Bolack said when he began his show on the Fourth of July about 18 years ago, the city of Farmington was already doing its show on July 3.
"I figure there's no reason to do them the same day," he said.
Bolack added that he prefers launching his fireworks on the Fourth.
"That's the day you should do them, anyway," he said.