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When local musicians Bill Archer and Karl Miller started performing Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the USA,” the audience stood and waved their American flags. It was just one moment of a patriotic Fourth of July celebration in downtown Bluefield.
A huge American flag hung from a Bluefield Fire Department ladder truck and floated in the breeze Friday as people enjoyed music and free hot dogs during the All-American Celebration in Chicory Square. The celebration was sponsored by Cole Chevrolet, which provided free hot dogs prepared by the Internet Cafe. Free popcorn was also served, and free American flags were available.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph Editor Samantha Perry said more than 300 people attended Friday’s concert. All 300 free hot dogs and every one of the 300 free American flags were distributed.
The aroma of freshly popped popcorn mingled with cooking hot dogs and chili as visitors listened to the music.
“All aboard the gospel train! Come on aboard!” Miller cried as more music started.
“This is a great turnout,” said local veteran Al Hancock of Bluefield. “And Bill and Karl sing a lot about veterans. We need something about veterans every day.”
The Coal & Coke building’s shadow and tents shielded the audience from the afternoon sun. Families found more shade under the park’s trees.
“It’s really nice, it’s really enjoyable,” Ronald Perry, 59, of Bluefield, said. “It’s needed in the area, and I wish more people would come to things like this.”
For many members of the audience, the Friday concert offered a welcomed break.
“It’s good,” said Rebecca Williams of Falls Mills, Va. “It’s a nice way to spend your lunch break.”
The patriotic music also stirred the emotions of veterans in the audience. Samantha Perry remembered a World War II veteran who came to her and said such celebrations moved him.
Five players from the Bluefield Blue Jays attended the concert and signed autographs. The players also appeared to enjoy the music. Michael Kraft, Conor Fisk, Chase Wellbrook, Chase Mallard and Dusty Isaacs all danced together and sang along as Archer and Miller performed the Bill Withers hit, “Lean on Me.” Withers is a native of Slab Fork in Raleigh County.
The weekly concert series is sponsored by the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. In the event of bad weather, changes regarding the concert will be posted on the newspaper’s website at www.bdtonline.com and the newspaper’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/bdtonline.
Bill Archer contributed to this story.