TUPELO • Like many Northeast Mississippians, Scott White of Pontotoc has spent the Fourth of July with his family at the All America City Family Picnic in the Park.
“We’ve been going about 15, 16 years. We always have a great time,” White said. “We enjoy seeing the fireworks.”
White is attending Tupelo’s Independence Day celebration next week, but for a couple of hours his vantage point will be different. Instead of looking toward the Ballard Park stage, he will be on it.
White is lead singer for Mojo, one of three bands performing at the 33rd annual event. This will be the first time for the Tupelo-based group to be part of the Fourth of July entertainment.
“We’ve been wanting to do this for a long time,” White said. “We’re all looking forward to it.”
Leigh Ann Kuykendall-Mattox, recreation director for Tupelo Parks and Recreation, said the picnic is an annual tradition for hundreds of people who make it one of Mississippi’s largest July 4 celebrations.
“It’s a great time to celebrate America with all of your friends and neighbors,” she said. “A lot of people look forward to coming out here every year and spending the day.”
The day’s activities start at 4 p.m. though the food vendors and trucks will begin serving about noon.
“We’ll have everything from fried pickles to barbecue, ice cream and snow cones, lemonade and tea,” Kuykendall-Mattox said.
The entertainment starts at 4 with Third Generation, a Starkville-based country rock band. Mojo will come on about 5:10 p.m. to perform its setlist of Southern rock, blues, classic country and outlaw country songs.
“I’ve got a good band behind me,” White said. “Each person has 30, ￼40 years of experience. They’re true professionals. They make me sound good.”
The music will change to a New Wave sound about 7:20 p.m. when The Spazmatics take the stage. The Nashville-based group covers ‘80s acts like Duran Duran, INXS, Devo and The Cars.
The North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, a fixture in past Family Picnic in the Park gatherings, is taking a break from performing at this year’s event.
Capping the day’s festivities will be a huge fireworks display scheduled for 9 p.m. and lasting for about 20-25 minutes. Kuykendall-Mattox said last year’s fireworks lasted only 10 to 15 minutes due to a technical malfunction.
“There was a problem with the fireworks firing system,” she said. “You can’t help it when machinery fail. But we’ve been told the show will improve this year. We’re excited to redeem that part.”