FROM READERS: What is your favorite Fourth of July tradition or memory?
July 4, 2012 | 9:01 p.m. CDTIn honor of Independence Day, two Missourian reporters wandered around Columbia and asked people the question: "What is your favorite Fourth of July tradition or memory?" Whether they were visitors just in town for the holiday or Columbia residents, everyone had something to say about why they enjoy the Fourth of July.
Winston Osbourne runs a Jamaican food stand in Peace Park on the Fourth of July. He has been in the U.S. for 10 years. "I have some friends who barbecue in the country, and at eight o'clock we go outside to watch fireworks," he said. He has been running this food stand for eight years, but this is the first time he has opened in Columbia.
Rilya Rombayan, originally from Indonesia, listens to the live music in Peace Park on the Fourth of July. She is living in Columbia while she gets her Ph.D. in civil engineering. Her favorite part of Independence Day is all of the flag decorations.
Gabe Sochor from Bisbee, Ariz., visits relatives in Columbia for the Fourth of July. He, his daughter-in-law and his granddaughter were planning on getting some red, white and blue dessert in honor of the holiday. "Bottom line: Have fun," he said.
Gabriel Kent, 4, eats chips near the sprinklers at Stephens Lake Park. His favorite part of the holiday is watching the fireworks — especially the big ones.
Fred Wright, right, and his daughter Delisia, 15, visit Stephens Lake Park. She and her siblings are visiting from Mississippi. Their favorite parts of the holiday are the barbecues, the fireworks and "just spending time with family," Wright said. They plan on watching the Columbia fireworks for the holiday.
Stephanie Adams from Boonville takes a break from picking blackberries at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. "Normally we go to St. Louis for fireworks at Webster Groves, but today I'm picking blackberries. Maybe I'll make a cobbler," she said.
Lisa Hernandez took her son to swim in Stephens Lake for the Fourth of July. "We just moved to Columbia," she said. The two plan on watching fireworks tonight to celebrate their first Independence Day in Columbia.
Hendrix Hernandez, 4, takes a break from swimming in Stephens Lake. His favorite Fourth of July tradition is shooting off fireworks, but he can't have fireworks at school. "It's too dangerous," he said.
Helen Terrill attends the Stevens Family Reunion. Her family plans to continue the tradition annually and expects around 75 people to attend this inaugural reunion. "It's a central point for everyone," Terrill said. Her family members are coming from across Missouri and from as far away as California to celebrate the Independence Day family reunion.
Meghan Kerley and her daughter, Madeline, play at Stephens Lake Park on Independence Day. Some of Kerley's favorite Fourth of July memories come from her big Southern family reunions in Alabama at her great-uncle's lake house. "I miss that every Fourth of July," she said.
Mark Leslie from Ashland visits Stephens Lake Park for Independence Day. "Big fireworks is the favorite," he said. He will later watch the fireworks in downtown Columbia.
Ron Wood is spending his first Fourth of July in Missouri. He is originally from Nashville. "I volunteer a lot with the community, and now I'm on park patrol," Wood said. "It's a good time."
Daad Al Johani is studying law at MU. "I'm waiting to see the band and the fireworks," Al Johani said. She's originally from Saudi Arabia, and this will be her first Fourth of July in the U.S.
Chris Foote and his children, Dylan, 9, Emma Lou, 6, and Finnian, 4, listen to the music in Peace Park on the Fourth of July. "We just came to see these guys play. The kids take lessons from Dierik, the banjo player," Foote said. Emma Lou plays the fiddle, and Dylan plays the guitar.
Kyrie Graves awaits the fireworks in Peace Park on the Fourth of July. Some of her favorite Independence Day traditions include barbecues, playing card and board games and just hanging out.
Rhonda Kaissi sits in Peace Park and waits for the fireworks to start on the Fourth of July. "I like how the community comes together," she said, "I love here a lot more than Faurot Field." Kaissi has lived in Columbia for 16 years. She moved to the U.S. in 1975 from Syria.
Raissa Espejo sits at the information table in Peace Park during the Fire in the Sky celebration on the Fourth of July. She is from northern Illinois originally, and she remembers celebrating the holiday by "going to Michigan and going to the beach and out on the lake."
Yahya Alsolaim sits at the information table in Peace Park during the Fourth of July Fire in the Sky celebration. He plans to eventually get his Ph.D. in industrial engineering. He is originally from Saudi Arabia. "It's my first time," he said, "I'm going to see the people and the fireworks."
Jerica Moore waits for friends to watch the downtown fireworks on the Fourth of July. She is staying in Columbia for the summer to take classes. "This is the first time not having a barbecue at my grandparents' house. I'd rather be at home," she said.
Yang Wang and her husband, Hailong Li, originally from China, celebrate the Fourth of July in Peace Park. "One year we spent Fourth of July at an American friend's house. We had traditional food like hamburgers and hot dogs. They had their own fireworks and we got to play with them," Wang said.
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