‘Do the best you can to celebrate’: KONY to air patriotic 4-hour fireworks preshow on Independence Day

KONY and City of St. George July 4th celebration at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2017 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — KONY Country radio host Carl Lamar has been in Southern Utah on the Fourth of July for over three decades as part of St. George’s annual fireworks display, and despite the cancellations and complications resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic this year, he thinks everyone will still have an amazing day celebrating freedom.

Canyon Media “4th of July Celebration” featuring country rocker Jason McNabb, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2019 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

“There have been so many cancellations with COVID-19. … What do you do? You accept it, move on and do the best you can to celebrate,” Lamar told St. George News.

For the past 33 years, 99.9 FM KONY Country and its parent company, Canyon Media, have teamed up with the city of St. George for its Independence Day festivities, and for the last 10 years, they have put on a patriotic concert preceding the fireworks display. However, due to local restrictions put in place for the ongoing pandemic, this year’s concert had to be postponed until next year.

“Obviously, it’s a disappointment to us. We’re looking forward to next year of course. Bigger and better as it always is every single year,” Lamar said.

In lieu of a big community show and concert, for the first time ever KONY is producing a four-hour commercial-free celebration on air beginning at 6 p.m. on July 4 featuring a wide selection of music, messages from the community and stories of inspiration.

“Generally, we play a lot of patriotic music, but specifically this year, between 6 and 10, Amy Chesley and I will be hosting a four-hour show,” he said. “We’ll play some patriotic music, we’ll have some patriotic vignettes in there, we’ll have all kinds of information about the fireworks show, and just have a good time for you … a fun, fun show.”

Chesley expressed her own excitement for the event.

“Heck yes, you’ll have us all night,” she said. “Plus, we have a new guy doing the fireworks this year, so that will be fun. It’s going to be good.”

Fireworks will begin launching at 10 p.m. for a full 22 minutes choreographed to music on KONY. Adam Jasperson, general manager of resort operations at Sand Hollow Resort, is taking over the fireworks duties this year from Murray Gubler, who is retiring after 43 years of lighting up Southern Utah skies.

File photo shows fireworks from St. George 4th of July, St. George, Utah | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News:

“They’ll make sure that everything goes off without a hitch,” Lamar said, adding that Southern Utah has seen some spectacular fireworks shows that seem to get bigger and last longer every time.

For many years the fireworks were launched from behind the Sunbowl in downtown St. George, but Lamar expects this year’s launch from on top of Tech Ridge at the old airport to be one of the best ever with fireworks twice as big as have been allowed in the past.

Canyon Media show coordinator Colleen Rue said there are several great locations around St. George for the best viewing, including the Common Sense Family Dentistry parking lot, Pioneer Park/Sugarloaf area, St. James Park, and downtown St. George at Vernon Worthen Park. There will be no access south of the Cliffside Restaurant along Tech Ridge Parkway this year. 

Rue said she is excited for this year’s fireworks display but also hopes everyone will come out to see the annual Fourth of July parade beginning at 7:45 a.m. at 200 West on Tabernacle Street. All of Canyon Media’s radio stations and team will be there as the parade makes its way toward 400 East before turning south to wrap around Vernon Worthen Park.

The parade route has been expanded this year from 1.18 miles to 1.52 miles to promote separation, she said, and city organizers ask that everyone stay socially distant. A map of the full route can be found online here.

Other events in St. George include the Uncle Sam 4K race at 6:30 a.m., and the American Legion Lester Keate Post 90 will be holding their own celebration at Tonaquint Cemetery from 9-11 a.m., hosting a historical flag display and book signing fundraiser.

Jeff McKenna, author of “Saving Dr. Warren… ‘A True Patriot,'” —  previously featured on St. George News — will be on hand to sign copies of his work and speak about patriotism. The book was written to teach young Americans what it means to be patriotic and to remember America’s forgotten heroes. For every book purchased at the event, 50% of the proceeds will go directly to the Post 90.

The Uncle Sam 4K made some adjustments this year due to COVID-19 concerns. The city of St. George released a press release detailing the changes:

  • A drive-through packet system will be implemented allowing race entrants to remain in their vehicle to receive their packet July 3 safely and with minimal contact.
  • Start line corrals of 50 athletes will be started in waves for the race. No groups larger than 50 will be gathered in the same area at the same time.
  • Finisher refreshments and medals will be bagged together. Participants will receive everything in one bundle upon finishing the race. 
  • All staff and volunteers will wear masks and gloves.

Lamar said they have also created a special text helpline for Fourth of July updates to keep the community informed.

“You can text ‘4th’ to 77000 to get more information,” he said. 

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!