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June 21, 2004

July 4 fireworks, concert return to Purdue's Slayter Hill

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The July 4 Stars & Stripes fireworks and concert return to Purdue University's Slayter Center for the Performing Arts after two years' absence due to nearby construction.

Map for event
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Brian Breed, director of Purdue Musical Organizations, will be master of ceremonies and will sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" to open the show. The Lafayette Symphony Orchestra, Purdue Summer Jazz Band and the Freedom Singers community chorus will provide a three-hour musical prelude to the climactic fireworks, set to start at 9:15 p.m.

"We're ecstatic about coming back to the Slayter Center," said Anne Harrigan, Lafayette Symphony Orchestra music director. "Slayter Hill is a great venue where people can come early and picnic. The shell is very well constructed and suitable for a symphony orchestra."

Lafayette Symphony Orchestra
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The Purdue Summer Jazz Band, conducted by Mo Trout, will open the concert at 6 p.m. with a selection of tunes by such well-known composers as Cole Porter and Duke Ellington. The jazz band will include patriotic favorites such as "America the Beautiful." Purdue's "All-American" Marching Band and this year's Golden Girl, Christy Jayne Stallings, of Johnston City, Ind., will join the jazz band in "Stars and Stripes Forever."

"We are thrilled to again be included in the community July 4 Stars & Stripes celebration," Trout said. "This is a wonderful opportunity for many of our current and former students to play some big band jazz music for such a large and appreciative audience."

The Lafayette Symphony Orchestra will perform patriotic pieces, some of which are such a part of the Stars & Stripes tradition that they are almost sacred, said Dick Jaeger, a member of the Stars & Stripes Committee.

The Freedom Singers, a community chorus that sings with the symphony during the July 4 concert, was founded in 1986 and performs only once a year.

"I'm a retired choral director and at that time, the director of the symphony asked me to put together a chorus to perform for Stars & Stripes," said Jaeger, founder of the Freedom Singers. "Many people are willing to sing here because the commitment isn't too great. We have four rehearsals and perform only once during the year."

Participation in the Freedom Singers varies from year to year, with an average of 60 to 90 members. This year there are about 70, most of whom are members of the First Assembly of God and Faith Baptist Church choirs, together with some former Freedom Singers.

Among the Fourth of July favorites performed by the Lafayette Symphony is Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," which will include the live cannon fire by the 3rd Battalion, 139th Field Artillery of the Indiana Army National Guard. The symphony will also perform the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Stars and Stripes Forever" and a selection of popular music such as the theme from the movie "The Patriot."

Local talent performing with the symphony includes Ballet Folklorico Guadalupano; Kelly Kirschman singing "God Bless the USA"; Nicole Pollard, Junior Miss Indiana, singing "God Bless America" and John Satterfield, tenor soloist, with the Freedom Singers. Purdue community relations director Mike Piggott, a former broadcast journalist, will narrate a patriotic reading of "Liberty for All" before the fireworks.

"People have come from all parts of the country to our Fourth of July celebration, and say that it's the best they've ever seen," Harrigan said. "It's not to be missed. It's very unusual to have a free major symphony concert. I want to thank our corporate sponsors who make this possible."

A 20-25-minute fireworks display by Melrose Pyrotechnics, of Kingsbury, Ind., will bring the evening to a grand climax, said Martha May, building and grounds director.

No rain date has been scheduled, Jaeger said.

"We have never needed to use a rain date," he said. "We sneaked by last year and plan on doing it again this year."

Free parking will be available in all A, B and C parking lots, said Donna Kemper, parking manager. VIP parking will be in the Recreational Gymnasium/Aquatics Center parking lot.

Traffic at the Northwest Avenue and Stadium Drive intersection will be restricted due to construction, so it will be best to avoid that intersection, Kemper said. A traffic plan is being finalized for alternate routes to and from Slayter Hill, and will be published next week.

VIP parking passes are available for $20 from Bank One (all locations), Lafayette Bank and Trust (all locations), Union Planters Bank (all locations), City News (422 Main St.), Village Bottle Shoppe (404 Sagamore Parkway, West Lafayette), Lafayette Savings Bank, Wells Yeager Best Drug Stores (120 N. 3rd St. and Mar Jean Village) and Marsh Grocery (in West Lafayette).

Pets, private fireworks and alcoholic beverages are prohibited, said Purdue police deputy chief Steven R. Dietrich. He also asks people driving away from the concert to be mindful of pedestrians and police officers on foot.

"We ask that all spectators respect the rules we have in place to ensure everyone's safety and maintain a family atmosphere," Dietrich said. "We will not let cars leave the parking lots until after the first wave of pedestrians has left the concert area, so everyone should just be patient and be prepared to wait."

Writer: Reni Winter, (765) 496-3133,

Sources: Steven R. Dietrich, (765) 494-8221,

Anne Harrigan, (765) 412-7181,

Dick Jaeger, (765) 477-7488,

Donna Kemper, (765) 494-9315,

Martha May, (765) 494-0930,

Michael Piggott, (765) 494-4636,

Mo Trout, (765) 494-9110,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: A publication-quality map of free and VIP parking and the fireworks fallout area is available online.

Related Web sites:
Purdue Bands

Purdue Parking


This map shows public parking areas and the best travel routes for those planning to attend Sunday's (July 4) Stars & Stripes concert and fireworks display. (Purdue University Police Department graphic)

The Lafayette Symphony Orchestra performs at a previous Stars & Stripes Fourth of July concert at Purdue's Slayter Center of the Performing Arts. After two years off-campus due to construction, the Lafayette-West Lafayette tradition, which is free and open to the public, returns to Slayter Hill on Sunday (July 4) with the concert starting at 6 p.m. and fireworks starting at 9:15 p.m. (Photo/Julie Oesterle)

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