published Thursday, July 5th, 2012

From barbecue to soda rockets, fireworks to firefighter drills, locals celebrate Fourth

Kate Frere, 1, celebrates the Fourth with her mother, Rose Frere Wednesday at the Creative Discovery Museum. The two are here from Baltimore, Md., visiting grandparents.
Kate Frere, 1, celebrates the Fourth with her mother, Rose Frere Wednesday at the Creative Discovery Museum. The two are here from Baltimore, Md., visiting grandparents.
Photo by Tim Barber.

The spectacle was less of a boom and more of a fizzle, whoosh and splash.

Children pulled triggers, dropping rolls of Mentos into 2-liter Diet Cokes and sending the fizzy liquid rocketing nearly two stories into the air.

Dubbed a "21-geyser salute," the exploding soda was one of several events hosted by the Creative Discovery Museum to celebrate Independence Day.

In the museum's atrium, a man dressed as Uncle Sam read a portion of the Declaration of Independence before leading kids in a miniature parade. Jayne Griffin, director of education, provided a quick lesson in history and patriotism. She told about the men who signed the document 236 years ago and those who have continued to fight for freedom.

"We needed people to help us maintain that freedom. We needed people to help protect that freedom," she said.

Children were able to set off their own "fireworks," in the form of giant sheets of bubble wrap rolled onto the floor. The kids quickly pounced, leaping up and down, while others dropped streamers and balloons.

Hundreds of locals and tourists filed into the museum Wednesday, finding welcome relief from the heat.

"We're just here for the fun," said Lisa Fox, while waiting for the Diet Coke show outside.

Her 7-year-old daughter, Tori Miller, said she got a kick out of popping the bubble wrap and enjoyed making her own paper American flag. She said the fun was interrupted when they had to take cover under a tree from a brief afternoon thunderstorm that hit downtown.

The museum's themed activities and regular exhibits provided a slew of entertainment for families looking to fill a weekday off.

"We just drove into town particularly for this," said Ginger Giffin, of Knoxville.

She, her husband and her two sons beat the heat at the museum and were planning on making it back in time for Knoxville's nighttime fireworks show.

Thousands of families came out for Soddy-Daisy's all-day July 4 celebration in the park across from Soddy Lake. Dozens of vendors offered shaved ice, fried catfish, hot dogs and turkey legs while Chapter 942 of the Vietnam Veterans of America hosted a car show.

Soddy-Daisy's firemen's muster brought dozens of firefighters from six departments on the county's north side -- Dallas Bay, Mowbray Mountain, Sale Creek, Sequoyah, Soddy-Daisy and Walden's Ridge.

The competition lasted hours and included a bucket brigade, drills in ladder rescues and gear dressing, a tanker-tugging contest and a "battle of the barrel," in which opposite crews try to spray a suspended keg across a cable.

Not an hour into the first event, most firefighters were already drenched in sweat and seeking shade between rounds.

Working to motivate Soddy-Daisy firefighters, City Manager Hardie Stulce said the companies are used to competing in the heat.

"It's hot," he said. "But I don't know, it seems like it's always hot."

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

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