Fireworks weren’t the only thing shining bright in Medora on Sunday night.
First responders were in the spotlight, too.
As Medora Pentecostal Church conducted its second Freedom Celebration on the day before the Fourth of July at the town park, firefighters, police officers, emergency medical services personnel, nurses and other first responders were asked at one point to line up on the right side of the stage.
One by one, they shared their name and job title and received a special gift from the church. Then they gathered in front of the stage — which featured a large American flag — and posed for a photo as attendees gave a big round of applause.
Pastor Tim Gill then asked Medora Town Marshal Jeff Walters and Carr Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Joe Barnes to come up onstage, and he and his wife, Faythe Gill, presented each of them a $500 check and a plaque. Proceeds came from votes cast for the truck show that was stationed along George Street.
“We certainly do appreciate their work, and we want you to know as a local town how important your job is to us,” Tim said.
“You often hear ‘Protect and serve,’ and I think our world today has forgotten how important it is, the service part of our police department and our fire department, that they have to have a heart for service,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if they are paid or if they’re volunteer. There is a heart for service, and we are so thankful for our local town and all that they give.”
Both Walters and Barnes were appreciative of the church’s gesture.
“It’s a big deal for a small town like Medora,” Walters said. “With today’s time that we’re in, it’s just good to be recognized for anything. The community coming together, listening to the things that people said today, that means a lot because these past couple years have been rough for everybody, but kind words, you don’t hear that a lot, but when you do, it makes you feel good.”
Barnes said the donation and recognition were outstanding.
“Nine times out of 10, we go to an address, we know these people. They are our family, our friends,” he said. “We’re providing life-saving measures to close people, so them coming together as a community to thank us is awesome.”
During the Freedom Celebration, Walters and his reserve officers handed out stickers to kids, while Barnes and his fellow volunteer firefighters had face painting, handed out plastic firefighter helmets and bags and educated the public on the firetrucks that were set up with other large equipment as part of the touch-a-truck.
“That’s our next generation. That’s going to be the next first responders and next citizens of this town,” Walters said of the kids. “We’ve got to take care of them.”
Barnes said it was good to see other departments in Jackson County along with Washington and Lawrence counties show up Sunday.
“It’s awesome,” he said.
Several of the first responders recognized Sunday work for more than one agency, church member Teresa Brewer said.
“From the first responders and EMTs who are first on the scene assessing situations and providing medical attention to those firefighters who risk their lives in less-than-safe environments to save a life or a home, our police officers who protect life or property and the enforcement of laws and regulations, these men and women also must portray the qualities of humanity, integrity, professionalism and courage,” she said.
She said David Lainhart and his family wanted to give a special shoutout to Jackson County Emergency Medical Services personnel who assisted his stepfather on Thursday when he had a massive heart attack.
“They worked on him for 40 minutes at his home before transporting him to the Seymour hospital and then Columbus. They never stopped administering CPR. Folks, that’s the dedication to their jobs and to our communities,” Brewer said, drawing a round of applause.
The Freedom Celebration also included performances by Medora Pentecostal Church’s kids and adult choirs, food and craft vendors, pony rides, inflatables and a fireworks show.
“I spoke with the vendors. Everybody has done great tonight. It has been awesome,” Barnes said. “The organizers are already coming up with more ideas for next year, ‘Let’s expand it. Let’s do it downtown. Let’s have this here.’”
On Monday, the Fourth of July festivities continued with the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department’s celebration at the Freeman Field Recreational Complex on the south side of the city.
It featured a cornhole tournament in the afternoon and live music, food and drink vendors and a fireworks show at night.
Fabulous Hickbillys was scheduled to perform for the second year in a row but had to back out at the last minute, so local duo Lonesome Crow stepped in to entertain attendees on a stage set up in the parking lot.
They performed for nearly three hours leading up to the fireworks show.
“We love music,” Brian York told Jay Hubbard with 92.7 Nash Icon in a live interview during a short break from singing. “We are glad that we had the opportunity to play. … We were pretty happy to do it. We appreciate it.”
He and Corey Lawles started a band about 16 years ago and now just perform as a duo with country, pop and classic rock music.
“We try to make sure everybody gets a little something. We don’t like staying with one genre, so we like doing it, too,” Lawles said. “We’re hoping that other people listen and they love it.”
Several times throughout the night, Hubbard lauded Lonesome Crow.
“They were a last-minute addition, and we thank them for being out here tonight,” he said. “They were phenomenal.”
After their last song, a fireworks show by Pyrotecnico Inc. lit up the night sky along with music provided by 92.7.