With a burst of red, white and blue fireworks and some help from F-16 fighter jets flying overhead, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir began this year's "Stadium of Fire" with a rousing rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner."
The national anthem was just one of many patriotic selections rendered by the choir as it participated in Fourth of July weekend celebrations in Provo. The "Stadium of Fire" event was held Saturday evening, July 2, in the Brigham Young University Cougar Stadium in conjunction with "America's Freedom Festival" at Provo.The annual festival, which included 27 events this year, is one of the premier Independence Day celebrations in the nation, according to its organizers.
Along with the Tabernacle Choir, the "Stadium of Fire" program also featured Mickey Mouse and his ToonTown Friends and hit country music singers, the Oak Ridge Boys.
In a tribute to Disney, the choir sang such familiar songs as "When You Wish Upon A Star," "Hi Diddle Dee Dee," and "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah."
A highlight of the medley was choir conductor Jerold Ottley turning over his baton to Mickey Mouse to lead the choir, and the giant embrace they gave each other at the end.
More than 300 members of the choir performed such patriotic favorites as "America The Beautiful," "God Bless America," and a medley of American folk songs including, "This Land Is Your Land," "Shenandoah," "Dixie," "Down in the Valley," and "This Is My Country."
As the Tabernacle Choir finished its segment of the program, the famous Oak Ridge Boys came on stage. They praised the choir for its wonderful sound and vast reputation for fine music.
In return, the Tabernacle Choir showed its enthusiasm for the Oak Ridge Boys during their rendition of the platinum award winning song, "Elvira." In an unusually spirited display, choir members stood and clapped their hands and sang along with the rest of the more than 50,000 people in attendance.
After the Oak Ridge Boys performed, the people in the audience turned their eyes skyward to enjoy a stunning fireworks display, inside and outside the stadium. The fireworks-launch area was located directly south and east of the stadium. The fireworks were synchronized to music that was occasionally provided by the choir.
With all the celebration of the nation's birthday, nothing was more impressive than the joint performance of the Tabernacle Choir and the Oak Ridge Boys as they were backed by fireworks in a grand finale performance of the choir's famous rendition of "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
Regardless of personal religious persuasion or heritage, it seemed as if everyone in the stadium was inspired by the Tabernacle Choir's performance.
Also part of this year's festival at Provo was an "Awards Gala" Friday evening, July 1, at which were honored people from throughout the world who "have helped give others freedom."
A Fourth of July parade featured as grand marshal former BYU and current San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve addressed a patriotic service Sunday evening, July 3. (See page 7 for article on his address.)