Local residents have variety of plans for celebrating holiday

By Abby Morris
and Lesley Jenkins
Star Staff

   As the nation celebrates its independence from England, many residents of Carter County are planning to spend time with family and friends during the holiday.
   "We're going to have a family cookout," said Demitrius Turner. "Then I'm going to take my little girl and my niece and nephew to see the fireworks (in Johnson City) and then come home and shoot some of our own."
   Melissa Troutman and her daughter, Hannah, who will turn eight the day after the holiday, were shopping for fireworks recently. They plan to celebrate all week, and, on the 4th, they will make homemade ice cream, eat watermelon with friends, and enjoy spending time with visitors. "Hannah used to think that the celebration was all about her birthday, and I used to tell her it was," said Troutman as she laughed.
   Shirley Carver said she plans to have a family gathering of about 25-30 people. "We are going to shoot fireworks, cook hamburgers and hotdogs, have lots of drinks," she said. "We haven't bought our stuff yet, but I guess we better get it soon."
   Festivities for some will take them outside of Carter County.
   "I'm going out of town," said Ricky Townsend. "Normally I'd be shooting fireworks though."
   Fireworks are a popular item this time of year and local fireworks businesses have reported sales are booming.
   Rebecca Miller and Joshua Hodge who operate a fireworks tent located on U.S. Highway 19E with the help of Miller's daughter, Angela, said many customers are just trying to stay safe and shoot off fireworks at home with family and friends. "Lots of customers have pooled their money together and bought larger amounts of fireworks to have a better show," Hodge said.
   Several citizens said they are using the long weekend to travel to visit family members who live out of state. Others stated they will just take advantage of the day off from work and catch up on rest and relaxation.
   Three individuals who work at the Doe River Gorge campground during the summer, Kara Maughon, Hilary Cox and Daniel Trigg, are planning to gather with friends for the holiday.
   "We will all be getting together to do something," Maughon said, adding that there are approximately 60 staff members at Doe River Gorge campground. "We'll probably watch the fireworks at the gorge and then go rock climbing," said Cox. Trigg said he will catch up on his sleep after spending a lot of time working at the campground.
   With much focus on family and friends on the Fourth of July, many still remember the true meaning of the holiday and will honor those individuals who served the country in the armed forces.
   "I plan on doing the same thing I do every year," said Richard Townsend, a retired Navy veteran of 24 years. "I go over to the VA (Veterans' Administration) and walk through the cemetery (Mountain Home National Cemetery). I've got friends buried over there from Viet Nam."