Fire In The Sky Freedom Fest Draws Crowds In Gulfport

When it comes to the fourth, folks along the coast say they know why they celebrate the red, white and blue.

"Freedom," says Patricia Toles of Gulfport.

"Family, food and fun - food mostly," says John Phillips of Gulfport.

For John Phillips, no Fourth of July is complete unless he comes dressed for the part in his American flag shirt.

"My wife got these shirts, I guess, 7 or 8 years ago.  We can't go without these shirts, wouldn't be Fourth of July," says Phillips.

Some who came out to Gulfport's Fire In The Sky Freedom Fest say this Independence Day kept their feet to the fire.

"They worked me today. I barbecued some ribs, some chicken, did some baked beans and potato salad," say Toles.

"I just worked up until midnight on the 4th. My wife works me as hard as she can," says Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr.

Others say the holiday has special meaning because of the work they've done. Sonia Monje and Jonathan Sotomayor Coloa' say they served in the armed forces to help ensure everyone the opportunity to enjoy their freedom for years to come.

"We know that our sacrifices mean a lot to our kids' freedom and to other kids' freedoms.  Our future depends on them, and if we're not here to defend it, we have no future," says Monje.

"I hoping my kids will one day know all the struggles we do for them," says Sotomayor Coloa'.

"We thought a lot about what's been going on here locally, nationally and in the world.  It makes you pretty happy to have a nice and safe place to call home. No place is better than America," says Mayor Warr.

"I'm glad we're coming together. We're coming back," says Toles.

At the event, people could also buy t-shirts with the proceeds benefiting the rebuilding of Jones Park in Gulfport.  Around 8pm Wednesday night, the committee reported selling about 140 t-shirts - that's $1400.

Construction on the park is set to begin between late summer and early fall.