A group of 25 to 30 people who spend four months planning Columbia County's annual Red, White and Blue Veterans' Celebration, have as much fun planning it as they do enjoying their hard work at the event.
Fireworks burst in the air during the closing ceremony of last years Columbia County Red, White and Blue Veterans Celebration.
"We get the biggest kick out of doing these things," said Jim Whitehead, chairman of the event's planning committee. "A lot of pleasure comes out of it for us."
The fifth annual celebration is slated for 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Doctors Hospital Field behind the Kroger in Evans.
This year's celebration will feature many of the popular attractions of the four celebrations before it, including patriotic singing, a flag retirement ceremony, a parade, remarks from government and military officials such as Brig. Gen. Janet Hicks and Congressman Charlie Norwood and crafts and children's games. The Memorial Day celebration is punctuated with a display of fireworks.
Hicks will present Assistant District Attorney Bobby Christine with a Bronze Star for his service as a Army National Guard captain in Iraq. Sgt. Thomas Thigpen, who died while serving in the Middle East, will be memorialized, Whitehead said.
Event organizers also will unveil the first street sign officially renaming a portion of Columbia Road from Washington Road to Appling as the Purple Heart Highway.
"We do anything like that to honor or memorialize people in the service," Whitehead said. "It seems like every year, something comes along that fits right in with what we are doing."
A small group of Fort Gordon soldiers will be recreating the Bataan Death March. In April 1942, nearly 700 American soldiers died on the Bataan Peninsula when the Japanese military lead them on a 90-mile forced march.
Whitehead said the planning process for the annual event gets easier each year, but the celebration continues to grow and be a highlight of Columbia County's calendar.
"After five years, you sort of get the procedure down. You start by filling in the blanks," Whitehead said. "We think this is going to be just as wonderful as the other four.
"It is good for Columbia County, and people get a lot of pride for Columbia County out of it. It really spells out what Columbia County is about."
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Red, White and Blue Veterans' Celebration
WHEN: Saturday, 6-9 p.m.
WHERE: Doctors Hospital field behind Kroger in Evans
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