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franklin county times

Meridian Symphony Orchestra prepares for annual Fourth of July Pops Concert

By Staff
ANNUAL PATRIOTIC CELEBRATION n Claire Fox Hillard, director of the Meridian Symphony Orchestra, will once again conduct the symphony in an evening of popular music on July 4 at Bonita Lakes Park. File photo
By Ida Brown/The Meridian Star
June 24, 2001
While the location has changed several times over the years, the inspiration behind the annual Fourth of July Pops Concert has remained constant.
For the third consecutive year, the pops concert will be held at Bonita Lakes Park. The evening of patriotic music and fun is sponsored by Cellular South.
Traditionally an outdoor event, the concert was originally held indoors.
The cove at Okatibbee Reservoir was the setting for the first outdoor concert. In 1993, the event was moved to Highland Park when it became a joint venture with the local American Cancer Society fund-raiser Pig in the Park.
In addition to a new location, it was also the first year the concert featured a fireworks show, which was in association with the City of Meridian. The year also marked the annual concert's first sponsor Meridian Coca-Cola Bottling Company.
In 1999, Bonita Lakes Park became the setting for the Fourth of July celebration. The concert stage will be located by the park's upper lake boat ramp. Parking for more than 500 cars will be available in the emergency spillway area across from the boat ramp. The gate will be closed at 7:15 p.m.
The concert will begin at 7:30 with Dr. Claire Fox Hillard, director of the Meridian Symphony Orchestra, conducting the 50-plus member orchestra in several popular songs, including "Shall We Gather at the River," "Hymn to the Fallen" from the movie "Saving Private Ryan," the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Stars and Stripes Forever" and, for the conclusion, "God, Bless America."
The evening also will feature the traditional flyover by NAS Meridian; the performance of the "1812 Overture" accompanied by a canon fired by the 150th Combat Engineers; and a opening performance by a local barbershop group.
The patriotic celebration will conclude with a 15-minute fireworks show at 9.
A food court featuring commercial and non-commercial vendors will be available. Vendors include Calvary Baptist Church, Little Caesars Pizza, the Meridian Museum of Art, Calvary Baptist Church, the Meridian Swim Association, the MSO Association, Squealer's and Tommy's Steak and Seafood.
Bathroom facilities will be available. Those attending are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs. The concert is free to the public.