Spirit of Freedom Celebration is almost here

by Steve Wiggins
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THE SHOALS – One of the largest Independence Day events in The South is less than a day away as crews busily erect stages, set up parking, and rig up a huge barge loaded with pyrotechnics. The 31st Annual Spirit of Freedom Celebration at McFarland Park kicks off Wednesday when the gates open at 6 o’clock in the morning for the early birds. For the rest of us, the music begins at One.

This year’s event, one of the most traveled-to in The Southeast, is expected to draw well over 20,000 people. They will fill the picturesque riverfront park, crowd the overlooking cliffs, and anchor their boats in the bathtub-warm water of the Tennessee River to watch, eat, drink and party the night away.

Of course, The Quad-Cities Daily will be there taking photos, so be sure to say “hello” if you see us there. We might even take your picture for our upcoming Photo Album!

The Spirit of Freedom Celebration was almost cancelled in 2010 because poor economic conditions put some of the major sponsors in a financial pinch. At the time, when the cancellation was announced, local Tourism officials and politicos put their shoulders to the wheel and, with the help of some new benefactors, managed to save the event. Last year, The Spirit of Freedom went off without a hitch. and this year, the problems of 2010, seem like a distant, albeit disconcerting memory.

There won’t be a lot of country music this year, as the event will have a decidedly rock atmosphere, anchored by Jack Russell’s Great White band which goes onstage after the fireworks show.

Jack Russell’s Great White  is an offshoot of the American hard rock band, Great White,  formed in Los Angeles in 1977. The band gained popularity during the 1980s and early 1990s. The band released several albums in the late 1980s and gained airplay onMTV with music videos for songs like “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”. The band reached their peak popularity with the album …Twice Shy in 1989.

The band continued to release new material into the 1990s, although none of their material charted in theUnited States. In 2003, the band made headlines when The Station nightclub fire led to the deaths of 100 people in West Warwick, Rhode Island, including the band’s guitarist Ty Longley, who had been a member of the band for three years. In 2011 the band split with Jack Russell forming “Jack Russell’s Great White” and Terry Ilous fronted Great White.

There are 2 stages for the music. Here is the expected lineup of acts:

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