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America comes together to celebrate Independence Day

Hannah Swayze • Jul 4, 2018 at 11:52 PM

These days, America can feel divided.

Between politics, religion and myriad other topics, there’s a lot of contention.

But on Independence Day, East Tennesseans braved the heat to celebrate Independence Day with cookouts, live music, community and, of course, fireworks.

Celebrations throughout the day included local events like the 4th of July Watauga Lake Boat Parade, Independence Day events in Elizabethton, Freedom Fest in Unicoi and the Pepsi Independence Day Fireworks Celebration in Johnson City.

Among the decorated floats, live bands and firework displays, it seemed that despite the sense of division, the spirit of freedom and independence stood out proudly like a flag being waved at one of the many local parades.

Bobby and Charlene Bryant have been attending the Pepsi Independence Day Celebration every year since it began. Every year they set up their chairs and umbrellas to brave the heat like others in the crowd and put the final finishing touchs on their spot with a festive blanket and American flags. They said the state of the country doesn’t effect how they celebrate Independence Day one bit.

“None whatsoever. No,” said Bobby Bryant, definitively.

Charlene and Bobby said that they love the tradition and are thankful to celebrate begin free. Plus, they absolutely love the fireworks at the end of the night and spending time with their children along with hundreds of others.

The Johnson City celebration drew plenty of families and groups to Freedom Hall with food vendors, inflatables for kids and live music that included Jimbo Whaley and Greenbriar, Mo Pitney and Brinley Addington.

The Bryants’ sentiment was shared by another pair of Johnson City residents who made their way to Freedom Fest in Unicoi. On the field of Unicoi Elementary School, another crowd enjoyed hot dogs, live music and even more fireworks. Lee and Lloyd Kinley prefer the drive to Unicoi for their Independence Day.

“We’ve always just celebrated the Fourth and we’re glad we have the chance to,” said Lee Kinley.

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