Southern Utah celebrates America’s 243rd birthday

ST. GEORGE — Taking full advantage of a perfectly lazy Thursday evening, thousands of locals packed into Dixie State University’s Trailblazer Stadium to enjoy sunny skies, good vibes and Southern Utah’s biggest fireworks show — the community’s way of saying, “Happy 243rd Birthday, America.”

Country music sensation Michael Ray, owner of three Top 10 hits, headlined the Fourth of July celebration, which was hosted by 99.9 KONY Country.

Amid a sea of red, white and blue clothing and accessories, revelers chilled out on picnic blankets and munched on pizza. A mother gleefully danced barefoot and played with her children. A hulkish father in shorts and sandals kicked a soccer ball with his sons, while young girls practiced cartwheels over and over on the football field turf.

“Let us remember why we’re here,” said Jon Pike, mayor of the city of St. George, one of the event’s sponsors. “This is the greatest country in the history of the world, isn’t it?”

Southern Utah resident Wade Hindes honors the American flag with this eye-catching costume. Hindes and his friends attended 99.9 KONY Country’s Fourth of July Celebration at Dixie State University’s Trailblazer Stadium.

Southern Utah resident Wade Hindes honors the American flag with this eye-catching costume. Hindes and his friends attended 99.9 KONY Country’s Fourth of July celebration at Dixie State University’s Trailblazer Stadium.

The holiday scene was enough to make a curious mind wonder, “Among all 50 states, where does Utah rank in terms of national pride?”

It turns out, a company called WalletHub annually conducts such a unique study intended to answer that question, and major outlets such as U.S. News & World Report continue to cite them.

Utah finished as the fourth-most patriotic state in the nation.

The three states that beat out Utah in WalletHub’s oft-quoted annual rankings: New Hampshire (1); Wyoming (2) and Vermont (3).

The least patriotic states on WalletHub’s list, based on the researchers’ definition of “patriotic” plus 13 key metrics, were: New Jersey (50); New York (49) and California (48).

WalletHub’s entire report, rankings and commentary can be read here:

Gallup, a force in polling surveys since the late 1930s, conducted a recent survey that found “fewer than half (45%)… are “extremely” proud [of being American], marking the second consecutive year that this reading is below the majority level. Democrats continue to lag far behind Republicans in expressing extreme pride in the U.S.,” Gallup Poll researchers wrote in a recent July 2019 press release.

Gallup noted this is the lowest level of national pride they have measured in the past 19 years.

Revelers slowly trickle in before the start of Thursday’s concert and fireworks event at Dixie State University’s Trailblazer Stadium.

The focus at Thursday’s laid-back event was family, friends and gratitude for being born in the United States.

“Today, we’re just doing a little fireworks, watching the (concert) and having some food,” said the 23-year-old Hindes.

As the sun faded, the festivities turned musical as country artist Michael Ray entertained the crowd with hit songs and an energetic performance.

Chants of “USA, USA” echoed throughout the stadium during the Independence Day concert and festivities.

Fireworks later dazzled Thursday night’s crowd, lighting up the skies over St. George, as those in the stadium and around the city observed the display.

“I approve of the military and I’m grateful for all the freedom,” Hindes said. “So it’s a great holiday for me.”

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.




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