It was as memorable a Fourth of July weekend as has ever been held in Franklin County.
It all got underway Friday evening as Eastpoint debuted its Freedom Festival, set to be an annual event.
Crowds lined US. 98 for the affair, which featured a stunning fireworks display over Apalachicola Bay. The festival had been cut back because the channel dredging was expected to take up too much space, but as it turned out Crave, the Mellow Mullet and Dave’s Dawgs were on hand to feed the crowd.
Lynn Martina, one of the leaders of the Eastpoint Civic Association, which organized the event, offered her thanks to the sponsors on Facebook.
“This would not have been possible without your help,” she wrote, praising Timmy and Natalie Butler and their crew for their help. “You guys worked tirelessly and made it happen. I can’t tell you how my heart felt. I really felt like it would explode at times. It does take a village to pull something like this off, and guys we did it.”
On Saturday it was time for Carrabelle’s extravaganza, paid for by the city. It began with an “unofficial” golf cart parade, and then featured a fireworks display as a misty drizzle filled the air. The fireworks were impressive but did not end with a grand finale.
“It was a good show with a surprise ending,” remarked one man.
On Sunday it was time for the Apalachicola Independence Eve Celebration, organized and funded by Apalachicola Main Street, which sold sponsor tables on the Riverfront Park waterfront docks to cover the costs.
Apalachicola’s Red, White and Blue Parade got the event started, organized by the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast. Former City Commissioner Jimmy Elliott, who served both in Vietnam and in the Middle East, was the grand marshal of the parade, which was exceptionally long and began at Lafayette Park.
Local favorite Flying Fish featuring Jeff Dutrow, Tim Dutrow, and Robert E. Mason got the music started downtown, followed by the Apalachicola Blues Authority featuring Bernard Simmons, an Apalachicola native, and other band members from Crawfordville, including Aaron Shephard on guitar and keyboard, vocalist Willie Jefferson, and Jefferson’s grandson, Alundra Jefferson, on drums.
Apalachicola’s Gordon Adkins performed an a capella solo of “God Bless America,” followed by an a capella performance of the National Anthem by downtown Apalachicola businesswoman Faith Lynch who served in the U.S Air Force.
The Veterans’ Tribute speaker was Air Force Lt. Col. Chris Zingarelli, technical director for the Space Sensing Directorate at Space Systems Command in Los Angeles, California. A graduate of Oklahoma State University, and holder of a masters and doctorate in electrical engineering from AFIT, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Ohio, he is presently a member of the newly formed United States Space Force.
Zingarelli is the grandson of the late Jiggs and Allie Zingarelli of Apalachicola, son of Dr. Bill and Amy Zingarelli of Gainesville, and nephew of Dr. Robert Zingarelli, and Navy Rear Adm. (retired) Mark and Elizabeth Zingarelli Milliken, all of Apalachicola.
Following his remarks, the enormous crowd enjoyed the most stunning fireworks display of the long weekend, accompanied by a stirring blend of patriotic, Americana music.
The long weekend closed Monday morning with the annual parade on St. George Island, featuring water cannons and water balloons and general zaniness. That evening featured an impressive fireworks display, paid for out of private funds.