The 239th Birthday of the USA is now history, and a great group of people in Marathon made our local celebration one of the best ever! For decades, Marathon has thrown a great July 4th party on Sombrero Beach, and the daylong events culminate in arguably the best small-town fireworks display anywhere.

So, we’ll start with those amazing fireworks. Chief pyrotechnician (and former Marathon Mayor) Randy Mearns, along with his crew of pyros and volunteers, many from the Marathon Fire Department, once again outdid themselves in a great show. Every year, Randy designs a show that’s synchronized with a combination of patriotic and inspirational music and creates the magic of the SkyConcert we all see right after sunset on the Fourth. Thanks go out to Florida Keys Media radio stations for broadcasting the patriotic soundtrack to the fireworks. Every year, I hear the comments and compliments from people on the beach, ranging from “Better than Disney,” to simply, “Wow.” Thanks to everyone, and of course, the City of Marathon, for making this all possible.

Speaking of the City of Marathon, thanks to Mayor Chris Bull and the City Council, City Manager Mike Puto (Ya gotta love it!), and city staff for making sure we still throw the best July 4th party anywhere. Special thanks go out to Jimmy and Ali and the entire Parks & Recreation Department for coordinating the games, activities, crafts, and fun stuff for kids of all ages. I know all the day’s winners will treasure their July 4th Medals for years to come!

The Rotary Club of Marathon has been the City’s co-host of the party for many years, providing the burgers, dogs, water, soda, beer, and snow cones for hungry and thirsty beach-goers. Funds raised on July 4th go to help the Rotary Club finance local scholarships and service projects, and make for the perfect way to give back to our community. Special thanks go out to all the volunteers who keep the food and drink served up to the people, and to the event chairpersons David Grego and Sam Williams. Thanks to Jason Koler and the Weekly for helping to get the word out about the national birthday party. Leigha Fox coordinated that morning’s parade (I was honored to have been chosen Grand Marshal), and American Legion Post 154 honored America by presenting the colors as Island Harmony sang our National Anthem to officially open the event. Also, special thanks go out to the sponsors of the July 4th event who help offset the costs and help raise more money for Rotary’s charitable works. Your contributions and support go a long way in our awesome little island town.

Thanks go out to the entertainers who came out and played: Dan Sullivan, Chloe Dolandis & Christian Davis, and my band Jade Storm. Mucho thanks to my partner in crime, Glenn Faast, as well as Rob Garza and Kris Estes, for all their assistance all day and all night with the sound and stage coordination. Thanks also go to the talents of Adrienne and Steven Miller, who helped make the music that flowed from our band.

I’d personally like to thank Mother Nature for giving us the best possible weather – even though it was a bit hot, a nice breeze helped keep things a bit cooler and more comfortable than some Independence Days have been. There wasn’t even a passing shower at all on that bright sunny day!

All in all, it was another great July 4th Extravaganza. If I have forgotten anyone or any group, it’s certainly not intentional. Let me just thank the entire community and City of Marathon for making this all possible, as well as those brave Founders who gave us something to celebrate some 239 years ago. See you next July 4th!

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One last story – it seems someone took issue with the SkyConcert radio programming. US 1 Radio’s Leigha Fox related how a stranger accosted her at the boat races and – get this – actually complained that the station played too much patriotic music during the fireworks on July 4th. Seriously? I mean really, pal – get a life! So sorry if you were offended the one day of the year when you might hear some patriotic symphonic band Sousa marches on the radio! I do, however, hear that the radio stations in Afghanistan never play American patriotic music there…

John Bartus is a singer/songwriter, former Mayor of the City of Marathon, and past President of the Rotary Club of Marathon and the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce. John performs Saturday at the Key Colony Inn, Tuesday at Castaway, Thursdays at Sparky’s Landing, and next Friday at Dockside Tropical Cafe. Music available on and iTunes.

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