EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been changed to clarify that the Joint Veterans Council didn't organize the July 4 celebration in 2009.
Don't be surprised to see toilet seats flying through the air along with the fireworks at this year's Independence Day celebration in Cape Girardeau.
A toilet seat toss is one of the "Redneck Games" planned as part of the the USA Veterans' Independence Day celebration planned for July 2 to 4 at Arena Park.
A group coordinated last year's Independence Day festivities at Arena Park after the downtown Libertyfest was canceled due to city budget cuts. A new group has since organized as USA Veterans, a not-for-profit organization. The American Legion in Cape Girardeau also is assisting with this year's festival, said Rodger Brown, USA Veterans commander.
Washer tournaments, a demolition derby and a battle of the bands and other "Redneck Games" are planned throughout the event. In addition to the toilet seat toss, the games include a cap toss contest where participants throw their hat on a rack of antlers. There will also be a dunking booth.
A fireworks display will close out the event July 4. A.M. Pyrotechnics of Springfield, Mo., has been contracted to do the fireworks show. That is the same company that USA Veterans hired last year to do fireworks at Arena Park on July 4.
"We want July 4 to be the community event of the year," Brown said. "No one gets out anymore, and it's a shame. We want to bring back that community spirit."
Admission to the park is free, but there will be some costs associated with various activities during the festival, Brown said.
Food and drink vendors as well as booths from local businesses will be set up throughout the weekend.
Brown said negotiations are underway with a "big name" group to perform at the Arena Park grandstand July 2.
The Southeast Missourian's Spirit of America Award will be presented July 4 as part of the event.
"We are thrilled to bestow the annual Southeast Missourian Spirit of America Award in conjunction with the Fourth of July Celebration at Arena Park, organized by area veterans," said Jon K. Rust, Southeast Missourian publisher. "Last year's show was a great time for all there, and this year promises to be even bigger and better."
The Spirit of America Award was first presented in 2003.
"Its recipients have stood out as the kind of people who have been instrumental in shaping our community on the main stage or behind the scenes," Rust said. "They are people of high values: service, patriotism, commitment, honor. And each one has helped make their local community in Southeast Missouri a better place to live."
Rust urges civic organizations, churches and clubs to begin thinking about making a nomination. As part of the award, the group that nominates the ultimate recipient will receive a check for $1,000 from the Southeast Missourian.
USA Veterans members are seeking contributions from local businesses and organizations to put on the event, estimated to cost about $60,000. Contributions are tax-deductible.
"We appreciate people who may want to give just $5 or $10 to help out, and we're also seeking corporate sponsorships," Brown said.
Donations may be made on the organization's website.
Brown said veterans deserve recognition and respect on Independence Day.
"We're just got to celebrate the Fourth of July to remember where we came from, where we are and where we are going," Brown said. "It's a day for patriots."
For more information, call Brown at 388-1916 or visit www.USA-Veterans.org.
410 Kiwanis Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO