Liberty Day cut short by lightning, still well-attended

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer 

COLUMBIANA — As people gathered on the streets of Columbiana for the 34th Annual Liberty Day festivities on Friday and Saturday, July 24 and 25, they got to enjoy a little slice of normalcy—something that has been sorely lacking in this pandemic.

Perhaps the only drawback was when the headline performance by country music duo Thompson Square and the fireworks show that was to follow had to be canceled due to lightning and rain Saturday night.

“It was a great Liberty Day,” said coordinator Ali Payne. “We were all happy with the response from the community on Friday and Saturday. The lightning storm brought an abrupt halt to the Saturday night festivities and we were disappointed to have to cancel Thompson Square and the fireworks. Unfortunately, the storm made it impossible to continue and keeping citizens safe was our top priority. Overall, it was a wonderful weekend celebrating the 34th Annual Liberty Day.”

Despite the event being cut short, Mayor Stancil Handley indicated he was pleased that the annual tradition took place.

“I think we had a good turnout,” Handley said. “It gave us the opportunity to be thankful for the liberty we have in America. A good time was had by all.”

One of the highlights of the 34th Liberty Day was the hotdog eating contest sponsored by The Great American Hot Dog Stand. Hannah Watkins was announced the winner, having consumed eight of the cylindrical delights.

“She outdid every man, woman and child,” Handley said.

Other festivities included a car show, musical performances and of course the annual Liberty Day Parade. Several vendors were also on hand.

Handley said that for the most part, attendees seemed to observe social distancing and many were wearing masks. He said he does not expect any adverse effects from the gathering.

“I do not expect an uptick in COVID-19,” he said, quickly adding, “I am expecting an uptick in patriotism.”