Residents rejoiced with gusto, providing the exclamation point while the dazzling fireworks display served as the perfect backdrop as another Benson Fourth celebration is in the books.
“It went great,” said Dorthey Moncada, City of Benson recreation director, and whose department is tasked with planning and coordinating the annual event. “We had more parade entries than usual,” she noted, adding things ran smoothly from beginning to end.
The early morning cloud cover and slight breeze made the muggy heat a bit more bearable as temperatures topped out in the 90s, a welcome relief from the typical triple-digit mercury readings which annually await Independence Day revelers in the valley.
The day’s festivities got off to a rousing start. Anyone within earshot of Lisi Harris’ rendition of the national anthem was immediately all in. Reaction from those around the emcee tent on Fifth between San Pedro and Huachuca streets said it all. Harris’ on-point and powerful delivery set the tone for the day’s celebration with members of the VFW Color Guard, Warren Johnson and Spec. Matthew Rodriguez, who presented colors.
Themed “It’s a Grand Old Flag,” the parade featured 80 entries as spectators commented on the number and quality of entries. It featured the usual fire trucks, police cars, sirens, tractors, tow trucks, mounted, motorized and walking entries, and a host of politicians making the rounds as election time nears.
“I enjoy the parade,” said longtime Benson resident Willie Askins, perched on his chair along the parade route near Benson Historical Museum. “Benson’s July 4 celebration is good… I like it,” he said, commenting on the number of parade entries.
With the higher number of entries, parade judges, Kim Lockhart, Helen Alto, Barbara Thompson and Sierra Quiroz had their work cut out for them. Buena High School’s JROTC received Best Marching entry with San Pedro Trailblazers 4-H awarded Best Float. Power From the Past was the best Motorized, Benson Alumni Community Band Best Performance and Standing Ovation Award went to Power From the Past.
Festivities at Lions Park got the overall thumb’s up as well, with, “sliding in the mud,” the highlight for Jacob Walker and several other youngsters, along with a brave adult or two, and courtesy of the fire departments’ water hoses from the water fights.
St. David topped Pomerene Fire Department in a spirited competition for the water fight championship with Benson Fire Department placing third.
Nightlife kicked off the live entertainment beneath the Large Ramada as the unmistakable aroma of grilling food permeated the Lions Park air. The Tombstone-based trio reached into its varied arsenal for a mixed set of classic country, rock, Mexican, and even a little rap music, drawing acclaim from those in the crowd while others hit the dance floor. Cochise County Line Band The Benson Barbershoppers, Sound Check, Benson High School Dance Cats, Mariachi Alegre, Bensopn Alumni Community Band, made for the full roster. Water slides kept the boys and girls cooled and the fireworks drew the usual “oohs and ahhs,” ending with dancing with Arizona Thunder Productions.
And judging by the number of visible smiles, Benson’s Fourth was another smashing success.