Countdown to firefighters’ freedom fest

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By Traci Chapman

A lot has changed in Mustang since 1969.

Streets are paved, once miles of fields are now subdivisions. The city has grown and changed, but one thing remains a constant as it has for 45 years – Mustang firefighters on June 28 will don their aprons and serve up their annual Independence Day celebration.

“The first time we held the event was in 1969, it was shortly after the fire department was established,” Deputy Chief Roy Widmann said. “It really from the get-go was a fundraiser for the department.”

The event helps firefighters purchase items not included in the city budget, Widmann said. Whether its equipment or a “gizmo” they would like to have to “everyday” items, firefighters’ cookout helps with items not always provided by the city.

“Things like flashlights, rope, stuff like that,” Widmann said. “We have flashlights on the truck, but the city doesn’t issue personal flashlights or things like that.”

Known for years as the bean supper, the event is now known as Firefighters Freedom Celebration. For $5, attendees get hot dogs, pork and beans, chips, watermelon, punch and water, followed by city fireworks at dusk. Before the big show, there’s also lots to do, Widmann said.

“We’ve invited helicopters and we never know who will come show up, as well as several storm chasers,” he said. “We’ll also have fire engine rides and inflatables for the kids.”

Oklahoma City band Super Freak will also be on hand, back for the third time, Widmann said. About 30 of the department’s firefighters will be on hand to kick-start the Independence celebration. It is Widmann’s 29th year to be a part of the fun, he said.

“It’s one of those things I really look forward to,” he said.

This year’s “grand giveaway” will be an inground storm shelter, including installation, the deputy chief said. The shelter was donated by Area Septic in Elmore City and installation will be done courtesy of Sprague Backhoe, Widmann said.

Freedom Fest begins at 6:30 p.m. and firefighters will serve food until 8:30 p.m. or until food runs out, the deputy chief said. The fireworks display will begin about 9 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or in advance at the fire department.

For more information, call (405) 376-9365.