By TESA GLASS email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — The 26th Annual Salute to Freedom will be held July 4 at the Mt. Vernon Outland Airport.
About 5,000 people attend the annual event. this year, a Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest will be included, in addition to the Little Miss July 4th Pageant, food vendors, entertainment and choreographed fireworks display.
Planning for the event starts in January, according to City Tourism Director Bonnie Jerdon. Jerdon said coordinating with all the volunteers and departments is the key to having a smooth event, with organizations involved which include the Mt. Vernon Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Illinois State Police, Mt. Vernon Fire Department, Litton Ambulance, city Public Works Department and Mt. Vernon Outland Airport as the largest groups.
“It takes a concerted effort from a lot of people,” Jerdon said. “We also have the community involved. The Lions Club provides a shuttle, and volunteers help. The Du Quoin Impact Camp does the cleanup after the event. It’s a hands-on event from a lot of people to bring it together and make it look effortless.”
The new Sidewalk Chalk Art contest will start at 5 p.m., when the gates open. Judging will be held at 8 p.m. and announced before the fireworks are set off.
The Little Miss July 4th pageant will be held at the airport starting at 11:30 a.m. with registration for babies and children up to 3-years-old; registration for those ages 4 and older will be at 1:30 p.m. and the pageant will start at 2:30 p.m. An entry fee of $45 will be charged, according to information from pageant coordinator Rhonda Moffitt. Information about the pageant is available by contacting Moffitt at 822-6836 or 315-4199.
Winners of the Little Miss July 4th pageant will held with the countdown to the fireworks start.