Celebrating the 4th on the 9th


A group of local residents gathered at a park on the city’s northeast side on Saturday afternoon to prove it’s never too late to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Unrelenting rain Monday ruined the traditional holiday celebrations at Shields Park and the fireworks show at Freeman Field.

But five days later, Music in the Park went off without a hitch thanks to near picture-perfect weather.

Attendance was down some, but it was still a good afternoon for those who did show up, including Kara Fowler and Chelsey Arthur. They’ve attended the music event since they moved to Seymour three years ago.

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The pair sat on folding chairs with children and a dog playing around them while musician Molly Hayes played an acoustic version of “House of the Rising Sun.”

“It’s a beautiful day,” Fowler said. “I can’t believe there aren’t more people here.”

The pair said that they enjoyed the day and the music was good even though they don’t personally know any of the musicians playing.

“It’s great you get to come out and listen to the local talent and enjoy the day with family,” Arthur said.

The event generally features up and coming local bands or artists such as Hayes and Sara Martin, who was the first to take the stage.

Martin, a resident of the Freetown area, performed a mix of older rock and roll and gospel numbers.

“It was nerve-wracking; I get really nervous when I perform, but I think I did pretty well,” Martin said.

Martin has been taking lessons at This Old Guitar Music Store in downtown Seymour.

Other than playing for the congregation at her church, Freetown Church of Christ, Martin said she had never played in front of an audience until Saturday.

That’s part of what Music in the Park is about, organizer Larry McDonald said.

“It gives some people with talent that don’t get a chance to perform a stage to do it,” said McDonald, who owns This Old Guitar Music Store. He’s also a music teacher and member of the TOG Band.

McDonald’s passion for music and teaching the young is the main reason he took over the job of organizing Music in the Park a dozen years ago.

He also is a sponsor of the free event along with the Seymour Department of Parks and Recreation.

On July 4, he had to make the decision to postpone the event.

“We came (to Shields Park) July 4 and there was a fear of lightning so we canceled the music and rescheduled,” McDonald said. For the record, it’s rained on six of the past 12 Fourth of July holidays in Seymour.

Because of the event being delayed five days, McDonald said he feared there was going to be a smaller turnout than normal.

“I still think that a lot of employees work Saturdays; when it was on the Fourth more people get that off,” he said.

Besides Martin and Hayes, other performers to take the stage were Kaylee McDonald and Jess Kelley, both of Seymour.

Rain on the Fourth of July also forced the postponement of another traditional event at the park — half-price swimming at the pool.

Michala Nierman, assistant manager at the pool, said she believed many people didn’t come because they didn’t know about the events.

“We’ve had fewer people,” Nierman said. “I think a lot of people didn’t know what we were offering. They seem surprised when we tell them its half-price.”

Both Arthur and Fowler agreed that fewer people turned out for it than they had seen in previous years.

“We knew the fireworks had been moved but only found out about the music and pool a few days ago,” Arthur said.

Even with a smaller attendance Arthur and Fowler say that the event still served its purpose, allowing for families to come out, listen to music and relax, while enjoying being together and reflect.

The Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals fireworks at Freeman Field also went off as scheduled Saturday night.

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