City, newspaper partner on community’s biggest event
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
Three years ago, led by The Liberty Hill Independent, the community came together to create its own Independence Day celebration, and this year’s event promises to be more spectacular than ever.
“That was our goal when our staff created the idea of the Independence Day event three years ago,” said newspaper Publisher Shelly Wilkison. “Liberty Hill residents didn’t have a choice but to travel outside our hometown to enjoy a professional fireworks show and music. It just didn’t seem right to us that Liberty Hill folks would go celebrate the holiday with strangers, so we found businesses in the community that shared our vision for what this event could be, and were willing to sponsor it to help pay for the fireworks show, entertainment and family activities.”
Now in its third year, jammed with entertainment from silent discos to booming fireworks, the July 3 celebration has taken another leap forward, bringing in the City of Liberty Hill as a new partner.
“After watching our success for the past two years and noticing the tremendous growth in attendance, the City of Liberty Hill came to us and asked to play a major role so that we could continue to grow the event and keep it free for everyone,” Wilkison said. “This partnership is a very positive one, and on behalf of a community that will benefit from a spectacular event in two weeks, we appreciate the commitment of city staff and elected officials who share our belief that local festivals and celebrations are important in the life of a community.”
For City Administrator Greg Boatright, it just made sense to step up and support the community’s biggest annual event.
“It’s an investment in our community,” he said. “I think anytime the city can take the initiative to help facilitate community activity, I think that’s a good thing. The Independence Day celebration is a great example of that. You have a great environment for the community to come out together, bring their kids and I think that’s important as we grow.”
This big event, drawing nearly 3,000 people last year, still captures the community feel that Liberty Hill is all about.
“It really helps for people to buy into the idea of the small town neighborhood concept,” Boatright said. “Anytime we have the ability to help create something like that, whether it’s movies in the park or the Christmas Parade, the city is the logical choice to host those types of events.”
In the past, the event has been shouldered by volunteers and numerous sponsors who helped fund the free fun for everyone, but the involvement of the city helps it reach a new level.
“There are sponsors, there are people who want to help underwrite and that’s great, we’ll take that and build on that as much as we can, but I feel like the money the city invests in these types of activities just creates a sense of worth for the people that live here,” Boatright said. “What I want is to create an expectation in our community that next year it is going to be even better. I want our city to stay involved and be a leader in creating that for our residents. We, as a local government, have more contact with our constituents than any other form of government. To be able to be involved in something the community really puts a lot of emphasis on is really important.”
When families are enjoying the games, rides and activities, soaking up the sounds of Kyle Park in concert, or enjoying the annual wonder and excitement of spectacular fireworks, the staff of The Independent, volunteers and sponsors can see what a special occasion the community has created to come together.
“Here at The Independent, we’re always looking for opportunities to showcase the things that make our community special, and in a very short time, this event has become a holiday destination for area families. Hosting this special event has been a great source of pride for us, and with this City of Liberty Hill as our partner, things will only get better,” Wilkison said.
“The Liberty Hill Day of Giving (June 28) is another new addition to our Independence Day festival this year, and we are proud to bring community attention to the non-profit organizations that work to make things better here,” said Wilkison. “We introduced this concept to our event because we wanted our neighbors to join with us to make a difference in Liberty Hill. Our nonprofits help make this a special place, and we are confident that their stories will compel our readers to get involved and lend a helping hand.”
Boatright sees it all as a shining example of the best of what Liberty Hill can be.
“It puts a positive image of our city out to business leaders,” he said. “You may have someone visiting here who looks around and sees what we have going on here and the type of environment we want to create, and people want to be a part of something that’s positive, that puts emphasis on the family. It gives us the opportunity to broaden our appeal and creates a positive image for our city.”