COVID shut down the 2020 Star-Spangled Celebration on the River. Finally, in January of 2021, it appeared that we might be able to have the 2021 Celebration. Event planners know that we were already behind schedule planning an event the size and scope of this 4th of July celebration. But, thanks to our fabulous sponsors and the cities of Petal, Hattiesburg, and the Forrest County Board of Supervisors, we were able to get our plans into fast motion. Let’s see, check off the list. Fireworks contract secured, stage production and entertainment secured, sponsors secured, vendors secured, volunteers secured, police and fire protection secured, liability insurance secured, parks prepared, etc. What are we missing?
There is no securing good weather. Beginning 10 days in advance, it was evident that weather may be a problem. On Wednesday, June 30, two days before the celebration, the chance of rain was up to 60%. On Thursday, it looked worse. We were up to an 80-90% chance of thunderstorms. On Friday, it was no better. The calls asking whether the event would be postponed or canceled were non-stop. Organizers had predetermined that Forrest County Emergency Management would ultimately decide whether the weather would pose a serious risk to attendees and would make the final call to cancel the event. At Chain Park and the Petal River Park, organizers, vendors, and volunteers monitored the weather reports on their phones.
By 2:00, the chance of rain was diminishing. By 4:00, the skies were clearing, and our optimism was soaring. Finally, Mississippi Moonlight took the Petal stage, and we were off on another fantastic 4th of July celebration. Maybe, it seemed to be the best SSC because it came so close to not happening at all! Hundreds of families and friends joined together in Southern fashion for an evening that reminded us all of how much we love this country and the freedoms we enjoy. Yes, when the first of the fireworks burst in the sky, I cried for joy. See you next year.