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Freedom Festival brings smiling faces

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It was a great day to be an American in Navasota Saturday, July 4! The first-ever Navasota Freedom Festival kicked off at 11 a.m. with a parade beginning at Brule Elementary, traveling down Washington Avenue to 9th Street. Parade watchers of all ages lined the route enthusiastically waving flags and shouting, “Happy July Fourth!” or “Happy Independence Day!”

Festivities at City Hall included kid’s games, 15 vendor booths and entertainment that began at 12:30 p.m. with the Kickstart Kids. Throughout the day, festival goers enjoyed music provided by Texas 105 Band, Jamie Weston, Doc West and ending with popular locals, Bill Mock & the Highway 105 Band.

Putting Navasota’s best foot forward on this Independence Day were 15 downtown businesses participating in Freedom Festival Bingo. Sixteen teams competed for the coveted Cornhole championship.

America’s 244th birthday celebration wrapped up shortly after 9 p.m. with another first for Navasota, a fireworks display at Brule Stadium. While many gathered to watch the fireworks up close, others enjoyed them more than half a mile away in lawn chairs at home.

The event was well received by those attending. Comments frequently heard were “We needed this,” or “Everyone else was canceling events. We’re glad we had a place to come,” or “We’re glad y’all did this.”

Navasota’s Freedom Festival attracted visitors from Brazoria, Brazos, Harris, McLennan, Montgomery, Robertson, Travis and Washington counties. Even locals who had initially thought the event was risky in light of COVID-19, had a change of heart and attended. Attendance was estimated at 500 throughout the day. The event was orga

The event was organized by Marketing and Communications Coordinator Madison Brooks and Economic Development Specialist Rayna Willenbrink with COVID-19 precautions in mind. According to Willenbrink, the City distributed all 250 hand sanitizers provided by a sponsor as well as 400 face masks. In keeping with Governor Greg Abbott’s June 26 Executive Order, vendor booths were spaced 10-feet apart. It was Mayor Bert Mill

It was Mayor Bert Miller who made the decision to proceed with the event after the Governor’s order.

Miller said, “I felt really good about the entries we got for the parade and the turnout. We expected it to be less than usual, but everybody abided by the Governor’s rules and it looks like the ones there had a good time. Some watched it on the Examiner’s Facebook page. We had great turnout for the concerts even though it was a very hot day. Right up to the fireworks, I think it was a success.”

It was also successful for Navasota’s downtown businesses. According to City Manager Brad Stafford, one merchant reported business four times greater than the previous Saturday.

Stafford said, “I saw most people complying with the orders. If they didn’t have a 6-foot distance, they had a mask on. I saw about 50% with a mask on. Everybody I watched tried to stay as far away from people as they could but still talking and enjoying life. It was great to have people out and enjoying Independence Day, and that’s what it’s about, getting people out and having a good time. It was awesome to have the crowd we had, just smiling faces. It was a good distraction from everything that’s been going on.”