LIMA — The Lima area showed its patriotism Wednesday the same way it has the past 25 years, marking America’s independence with the Star Spangled Spectacular.
While the patriotic significance of some some events was self evident, you need to dig a little to find it in others.
The Veterans’ Car Show, held during the 2018 Star Spangled Spectacular, gave veterans of all ages and branches of service the chance to show off vintage to modern vehicles while sharing stories with other men and women who served in the armed forces.
“What makes me feel good is you can see them all set along the treeline, not knowing each other but talking about anything and everything,” said event organizer Andy Maravola. “We don’t do anything pressing, like a car show register or anything. We just go out, pick a few cars and honor our vets, give them a few trophies and thank them for being here and thank them for being a vet.”
Maravola said Independence Day symbolizes America, our veterans and everything we do and stand for as Americans. He personally celebrates in remembrance of his father, who served in World War II, and every other veteran who fought and in some cases sacrificed everything to give Americans the freedoms they enjoy, he said.
With the intense heat Wednesday, with AccuWeather reporting temperatures hitting 90 degrees in Lima, the veterans left with their vehicles before a scheduled Veterans Parade and Cruise-Out.
The City of Lima, Mercy Health, Superior Credit Union, Tom Ahl Family of Dealerships and Your Hometown Stations sponsored this year’s Star Spangled Spectacular.
“There’s nothing more American than barbecuing hamburgers,” said Michael Severance, winner of the second annual Kewpee Hamburger Eating Contest with 11 burgers in 10 minutes. “It’s like that all over the United States. Everybody is having meals with their families in their backyards.”
Todd Walker, of WIMA Radio, performed the play-by-play commentary during the hamburger eating contest. He said eating contests are Americana; it’s iconic to have burgers on the Fourth of July. Kewpee Hamburgers is a Lima icon, so the hamburger-eating contest is combination of the two, Walker said.
The pre-fireworks show began with a performance by area band Brother Believe Me. The band performed classic rock and alternative covers, while a handful of people braved the sun-scorched open field.
Many other people, including Jim and Dotty Leightner, of Pandora, sat in the shade provided by the treeline of a baseball diamond at Faurot Park. The Leightners had a blanket spread out of the grass, listening to the music played by Brother Believe Me, while their three grandchildren, Isabelle, Madison and Daniel Hammett, of Cedarville, ate corn dogs and hot dogs.
Jim Leightner said Americans have tremendous rights and liberties other countries don’t have, and that’s why people from other countries all want to come to America.
“Well, I’m a Christian so I think freedom of religion is very important,” he said. “I think all the First Amendments rights are important.”
Americans are fortunate because we have opportunities men and women in other countries don’t have, he said. We can protest, assemble freely and not fear persecution because of our religion. One of the most important things in America is we can choose our own leaders. They might not be the best choices and not everyone agrees with the choice, but we’re not stuck with them forever like people in other countries, Jim Leightner said.
“We appreciate all who serve, have served and gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country,” he said.
As the sun began to set, more and more people filled the field to await a spectacular display by Zambelli Fireworks that included nearly 2,500 fireworks. The Lima Concert Band took the grandstand and began to play.
At 8 p.m. Ed Hoffmeyer, a member of The Songs of the American Revolution, and a others in Colonial American costumes began handing out small American flags on a stick and American flag bandanas to people listening to the music on behalf of Tom Ahl Family of Dealerships in Lima.
“I mean the flag, wow,” Ahl said. “The flag represents the sacrifices made by many for our freedoms and country.”
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362