By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,425)
“In 43 days plus, this Hill will be filled with thousands of people watching the annual July 4th Stars and Stripes Spectacular,” said Jon Jennings, co-founder of the four year old event at a morning press conference on the Eastern Promenade on the Hill. “And it will be special this year because the iconic Don McLean will be performing with the Portland Symphony Orchestera, directed by Robert Moody. McLean will be singing his classics “American Pie” and “Starry Starry Night.”
The “Stars and Stripes Spectacular” is the largest public event in the State of Maine and the largest Independence Day celebration north of Boston. This year it will be held on Thursday, July 4th on the Eastern Promenade, on the Hill. The rain date is Friday, July 5th. The event is free and open to the public and has an estmated attendance of over 60,000 spectators annually. The concert will be broadcast live on 94.9 WHOM.
“We are thrilled to have a legendary performer like Don McLean join in the festivities this year. It will be an event not to be missed!” said Jennings. Jennings went on to say the Committee has wanted McLean for a few years now, especially since he lives year-round in Camden. “This just happened to be the year it worked out for us all.” It’s also the 150th anniversary of the Gettsburg Address so there will be a special tribute to that part of America’s history.
Mr. McLean is a singer songwriter that first received international recognition in 1971 with his hit song “American Pie.” “American Pie” has been broadcast over the airwaves ever since and has inspired generations of fans, including Madonna who recorded the classic song in 2000. It is considered one of the top five “Songs of the Century” according to the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. Mr. McLean is also a year round resident of Camden. Mr. McLean is in the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and is the star and subject of the PBS documentary “American Troubadour.”
The July 4th Spectacular was founded in 2010 when the City of Portland cut the fireworks from the budget. A group of business leaders, led by Jon Jennings, then of the Red Claws, came together to save this great southern Maine tradition. In 2011 the Portland Symphony Orchestra was added to perform before and during the Fireworks display and the “Stars and Stripes S pectacular” was born.
Table and individual seats are now on sale for VIP seating. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to pay for the annual celebration. For more information on the event, to become a sponsor, reserve a VIP table or seats, please visit: www.july4thportland.org or call (207) 321-5550.
Jennings is currently the Assistant City Manager for South Portland.