Lakeland Celebrates Red, White, And Kaboom for 22nd Year
by James Coulter
The City of Lakeland celebrated the country of the red, white, and blue with the red, white, and kaboom of fireworks during its annual Fourth of July celebration on Sunday.
Despite the cloudy, rainy weather earlier that day, several hundred residents and guests congregated along Frances Langford Promenade at Lake Mirror in Downtown Lakeland for an evening of patriotic festivities.
Several dozen food trucks lined the lakeside park area, as well as gathered within Munn Park, to provide attendees with a selection of food as diverse as America itself, from hot dogs and funnel cake to plenty of exotic dishes.
Attendees could also listen to music performed by Andrew Love and the Franchise Band on the concert stage and peruse several dozen vendors from local organizations. Many including the Polk Supervisor of Election and Women’s Democratic Party of Polk County encouraged people to perform their civic duty and vote in the upcoming elections by registering to vote.
The big finale, of course, were the fireworks. After a day of grey skies, the dark clouds parted the night sky clear, allowing for several hundred colorful fireworks to launch within a spectacular patriotic display.
The fireworks show, along with most of the event, was sponsored by T. Mims Corp, a local real estate development and investment firm. For the past 12 years, Tom Mims. President & CEO, and his business have sponsored the annual event.
He loves seeing the community coming together to celebrate unity through patriotism. Most of all, he enjoys giving back to the community that has allowed his business to thrive, he said.
“It is a great time for people to get together,” he said. “The community has been amazing to us, we have grown up here our whole lives. [We love] just seeing the kids play and the families get together and enjoy the fireworks…It is just a great event that brings the community together.”
Aside from allowing the Lakeland community to come together to celebrate their country, Red, White, and Kaboom also allows them the opportunity to give back to their community by donating canned food items to VISTE, Volunteers in Service of the Elderly. The local non-profit organization helps at-home senior citizens enjoy a comfortable, independent lifestyle by providing them the food and supplies they need.
For 18 years, volunteers from VISTE push around empty shopping carts to ask people for donations of canned food and other grocery items. Being able to host their food drive during the most patriotic event of the year makes them feel especially connected to the people in their community and country, Steve Bissonnette, VISTE President.
“Everyone has a parent or a grandparent. We all have a personal understanding of what it means to care for the elderly so it is great to have the whole community involved out here,” he said. “I like to see the whole community come together like this, whatever event, and the celebration. We are grateful they are providing us food.”
For the past 22 years, Red, White, and Kaboom has united the Lakeland community to celebrate their love of country and city. The event was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but was re-hosted the following year. This year’s event had high expectations to be larger than the previous years, and the turnout that evening did not disappoint, said Kevin Cook, Communications Director with the City of Lakeland.
“I enjoy the fact that the whole community is coming together,” he said. “We don’t care if you are red, white, or blue for this event. We just look forward to the fireworks and great entertainment.”