Post's Independence Day Celebration is free, open to the public

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – From food to entertainment to fireworks, Fort Leonard Wood's annual Independence Day Celebration will once again offer the public a Family-friendly way to mark the nation's birthday with events and activities throughout the day July 4 at Gammon Field.

"It means so much to the local community and the Fort Leonard Wood community to do this celebration every year; it's the biggest single event we put on," said Eli Wilson, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Community Activities manager. "This is a Garrison event, and it's for the community as a whole. (FMWR) doesn't take credit for this — there are so many directorates involved, it really is a Fort Leonard Wood community event," he added.

Events begin at 7 a.m. with the inaugural "These Colors Don't Run" 5k and 10k races starting at Davidson Fitness Center. Runners will be dowsed with red-, white- or blue-colored powder at select points along the route, with awards going to the top male, female and age group winners.

"It's based on the Color Run concept," Wilson said, adding that runners can pre-register for $15 either online at or at Davidson Fitness Center now through 8 a.m. Monday. Runners can also register at DFC at 6:40 a.m. for $25 the day of the event.

The bulk of the activities begin at 3 p.m. at Gammon Field, with numerous activities, including music, vendors, a car show, outdoor volleyball tournament, a petting zoo, pony rides, a dunk tank and more. 

Food vendors will have concessions are available for purchase throughout the event. According to LoraLee Neubeck, FMWR recreation specialist, visitors will have a variety of foods to choose from, with dishes cooked up by both nonprofit and commercial vendors.

We will have everything from funnel cakes to ice cream, snow cones, Italian shaved ice, barbecue, German food, Latino food, filipino food and, of course, good old American hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, kettle corn, fresh-squeezed lemonade, fried Oreos and more," Neubeck said.

At 5 p.m., the 399th Army Rock Band, also known as "Frago Rock," is scheduled to perform. Official ceremonies begin at 7 p.m. with remarks from senior leaders and an Army Family Covenant signing, followed by the annual "Salute to the Nation."

Soldier Show, fireworks

Keeping its tradition of "entertainment for the Soldier by the Soldier" intact for three consecutive decade is the 2013 U.S. Army Soldier Show, which will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. 

The theme of the 90-minute song and dance production is "Ready and Resilient: At Your Service," and explores what it means to be ready and resilient in today's Army as a Soldier, spouse, Family member, survivor, retiree and civilian.

"Every American, military-affiliated or not, will be able to see themselves in the show," said Victor Hurtado, the show's director. 

The goal of the production is to accentuate the strengths and resiliency of Soldiers and military Families through modern songs, current hits, vibrant costuming, exciting choreography and spectacular visuals.

Two members of the cast and crew are familiar with Fort Leonard Wood. Spc. Marvin Forbes was the post's 2012 Operation Rising Star winner and will perform on stage, while 1st Lt. Jonathan Newey, Army Engineer, will work behind the scenes as a Army Soldier Show technician.

The show is free and open to the public.

Following the fireworks show, at about 9 p.m., is the main event: fireworks.

"We have the largest fireworks display in central Missouri," Wilson said, noting that a large portion of the fireworks are supported by Fort Leonard Wood's recycling program.

Bring a lawn chair

Fort Leonard Wood's Independence Day Celebration has festival seating, and visitors are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs.
For safety and security reasons, no coolers, pets or fireworks will be allowed on the grounds.

For more information, call (573) 596-6913.