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Yukon celebrates with Freedom Fest

There was not a rain cloud in the sky, and the slight breeze made even the 95-plus-degree temperatures bearable for Yukon’s two-day Freedom Fest.

Thousands of people poured into Chisholm Trail Park for the event.

Tuesday was all about saluting veterans of the armed forces.

More than 220 local vets were invited to a free dinner, and then honored just before a performance of Irv Wagner’s Concert Band and a 15-minute fireworks display.

Wednesday, however, was all about fun and festivities.

Beginning at 8 a.m. with the Cherry Bomb Triathalon, 47 athletes between the ages of 8 and 13 swam, biked and ran a course mapped out in the park.

Some struggled to complete the course, but virtually everyone who entered also finished.

More than 80 entries were part of the annual Children’s Parade, which featured a variety of floats, including a replica of a World War I airplane.

And there were almost a dozen entries in the annual sand art contest, ranging from a Best of Yukon display built by former Mayor John Alberts and his family, to a Miller Man built by by Mustang resident Diann Burris, her daughter, Cassidy, and mother Barbara Loges, who was in town from Colorado Springs..

The same trio built a replica Mr. Underpants during last year’s event.

There were food trucks, a car show and music for those who simply wanted to relax.

And nine was the number of hot dogs eaten by Robert Alvarez, of Yukon, the winner of the annual hot dog-eating contest.

The last dog went down just as the buzzer sounded.

Second-place finished with eight hot dogs eaten.

The Oklahoma City Philharmonic, under the direction of new music director Alexander Mickelthwate, was showcased during Wednesday’s pre-fireworks concert.

The OKC Phil’s musicians ran through 90-minutes of patriotic, pop and cultural music.

The second fireworks show in two nights included a display that was synchronized to patriotic and country music. It drew a rousing ovation with the grand finale.

Parks and Recreation Director Jan Scott said was pleased with how this year’s festivities went.

“It was one of the best festivals we’ve had,” she said.

Scott said thousands attended the actual event, though no official count is available, but hundreds of other people sat in yards and parking lots to get a view of the fireworks display.

“There is no way to tell, but the walking traffic just kept coming in,” she said.

Freedom Fest has been going on for more than 20 years. The veterans salute was added about 15 years ago.

She said this year’s crowd on the Fourth of July was the largest in recent history.

“It was one of the most creative shows I’ve seen,” she said of Wednesday’s fireworks display.

She said there were no major incidents reported, with only a few children being reported as missing, and a couple of incidents at the swimming pool. In the end, everything worked out well.

“It was calm,” she said.

Work to wrap up this year’s event and begin work on next year’s festivities is expected to start in January, Scott said.

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