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Joplin on the 4th of July

Celebrating Independence Day in Joplin was quite an inspiring experience! Freedom Fest was held in Landreth Park, where a Louisiana church fed us volunteers a few days last week (steak & gumbo!).We took the kids & Jack the dog and got there just in time to hear Rush Limbaugh. He gave a very encouraging, patriotic speech and had the crowd on its feet. Plus, he brought an entire truckload of his new tea (Two If By Tea) to give away! Love him or hate him, the people of Joplin just gratefully said thanks for free tea! Then we were treated to a Joe Diffie concert, with fireworks going off all around. Missourians sure love their fireworks! They've been going off for days, all over the city, from every direction, all night long... (much to poor Jack's chagrin!)
The kids also built boats thanks to Lowes, who provided Build And Grow kits, aprons, and safety glasses for thousands of kids! The boat is a flag waver, perfect for the 4th! It was so neat to see so many kids, hammering away. :)Next were the fireworks, with the usual oohs and ahhs, and some very cool new types with shapes we've not seen yet. My favorite was the smiley face! We all enjoyed them, except for Jack of course. He found a pile of boxes to hide under. We thought he should face his fear, and hoped he might get used to the booms. Yeah, it didn't work.
I happened to catch this video of swirl and smiley face fireworks! Why yes, our kids do provide play by play.

On our walk back to the truck, we saw some shady-looking characters sitting in the back of it. Turns out they were indeed shady, but they were our friends the Godwins! :) They'd spotted our truck from a bridge (it kind of stands out with the OSU magnets I guess) and surprised us. So it was great to see them and get to say goodbye (as we're both leaving soon, although I'm sure we'll meet again).
It was neat driving through the tornado zone on the way home and seeing the darkness, but fireworks behind it from every side. When we got home, they were shooting fireworks in the campground! So, more fun for us, but not so much for Jack. But he'll get over it. One day. Hopefully.
Randomly, a neighbor RVer was playing the bagpipes as we left. That was new!
We thought watermelon would be a great start to our celebrations.
It was really very inspiring to see the people of Joplin celebrating this July 4th. It's been a great experience seeing the dedication of recovering and rebuilding, but this was a wonderful break from all the hard work, for all the residents and volunteers alike to celebrate!