South Salt Lake celebrates heroes at annual Freedom FestivalJul 25, 2019 05:00PM ● By Holly Vasic
Spider-man gives high-fives during the South Salt Lake Independence Day parade on July 4, 2019. (Holly Vasic/City Journals)
By Holly Vasic | [email protected]
South Salt Lake’s annual Freedom Festival kicked off with a veteran’s reception on July 3 and ended on the Fourth of July with family fun at Fitts Park. With the death of South Salt Lake Police Officer David Romrell last November on the minds of the festival’s planners, they decided on a parade theme of “Every Day Hero” and started a new essay contest asking participants who they call their hero.
At 7:30 a.m. on July 4, South Salt Lake residents, family, and friends gathered at the southeast corner of Fitts Park to start off the holiday with a 5k or fun run/walk. Participants of all ages picked up their running T-shirts, pinned on numbers and tried to beat Captain America—South Salt Lake’s own Dustin Permann—when the race began.
Patrick Clifford came in first place, Jessica Golden was second, then Brennan Vasic, Hayden Seeley and Eli Morato. Racers who finished at Fitts Park were greeted with cheers, a snack, and a South Salt Lake 5k Fun Run/Walk medal.
The parade followed the run. Children lined the parade route anticipating the candy that would come with the procession ending at Fitts Park as well, where the Freedom Festival took place. The park was filled with inflatable activities, booths, food trucks, and more for everyone in attendance to enjoy.
South Salt Lake’s Myrna Clark planned the festivities and was inspired to begin an essay contest from what she had seen in the past. “I remember back in the day there were several activities calling on the community to participate in whether it’s coloring an eagle, flag or writing a poem, mostly patriotic things. I remember an essay contest posted in the newspaper in the city that asked ‘What does freedom mean to you?’” Clark said.
With the death of Officer Romrell on her mind she wondered what the South Salt Lake community felt about the people they call their hero. “Some of my best friends are in public safety. They have families, they are people willing to go out every day, day in, day out, rain or shine to keep the community safe, some even save a life and some give their lives,” Clark said.
The essay contest had two categories, 17 and younger and 18 and older, with judges from different South Salt Lake City departments such as fire, police, the Promise Program, and parks and recreation. Eleven-year-old Jinan Farhan won the 17 and younger category and Lynda Brown, a South Salt Lake resident for over 35 years won the 18 and older category. Jinan wrote her mother was her everyday hero, for always being there and all the love she has for her. Brown’s everyday hero were men and women in uniform who serve their country or community, those who may not come home at the end of the day. Brown wrote in her essay, “Everyday heroes is what this country needs to help us through. To protect and watch over our county and our community May we find our Everyday Hero in our lives and become ones ourselves.”
For Clark, the theme of hero throughout the festivities this year creates a space to pause. “I think we tend to go on our busy lives and forget those that make daily sacrifices for us. We should be kinder to each other, treat each other with respect and take time to be with each other.”