NORMAN — American flags, classic rock ‘n’ roll and beautiful weather set the scene for Independence Day celebrations Thursday evening during Norman Day at Reaves Park, 2501 Jenkins Ave.
Crowds lounged in the shade listening to live music from bands Full Circle and Nicnos as children waited their turn to try the moon bounces or pony rides and families snacked on picnics.
Lexington resident Hank Ivester sat back in a lawn chair, enjoying the patriotic atmosphere with his wife, Ruthelen, and two friends. The Korean and Vietnam War veteran said for him the Fourth of July is “a military thing.”
Ruthelen said she thinks the holiday is an important way to remember American heritage.
“Our freedom. And our freedom to gripe if we want to — out loud,” she said, laughing about her favorite part of her American heritage.
The couple has lived in the Lexington area for 20 years, Ruthelen said, and has enjoyed coming to the Reaves Park July Fourth celebration for several years for its family-friendly atmosphere. The cooler weather this year was an added benefit, she said.
City of Norman Parks and Recreation Director Jud Foster said the city has been hosting the celebration for well over 40 years.
Foster said an average of 10,000 people come to the park every year to enjoy activities like this year’s baby crawl, nickel find and money-count jar. But the main attraction, of course, is the fireworks.
Additional crowds can be found throughout the city at other vantage points, like in the Lloyd Noble Center parking lot, watching the fireworks, Foster said.
Christa Ozoya, Norman resident, came out with her 9-month-old daughter to enjoy the day. Originally from Illinois, Ozoya said she misses her hometown parade but always enjoys celebrating this special holiday no matter where she is.
“It gives you pride to be an American,” she said. “My husband’s from Nigeria but he really likes [July Fourth]. He’s not a citizen yet.”