July 5, 2008

Akron Celebrates With Food and Fun

By Carl Chancellor, The Akron Beacon Journal, Ohio

Jul. 5--Greasy lips and sticky fingers were the order of the day Friday at Akron's Rib, White & Blue Festival celebrating Independence Day.

Hundreds of people, many with toddlers in tow, strolled South Main Street, stopping every few feet for amusement rides and to purchase ribs, roasted corn, funnel cakes and libations.

Those looking to take a break from the bustle made their way to Cascade Park's Lock 3, found a spot on the lawn and jammed to the syncopated sounds of a zydeco band.

"All right, this is what I'm talkin' about," said a leather-vested biker type, raising a beer bottle to salute the band.

While the adults seemed satisfied with the slow, laid- back pace of the day, a number of the younger festival patrons, those not yet in double digits, found it exceedingly difficult to wait for the sun to set to usher in the -- FIREWORKS!

But first there was a bit of business to tend to, a pre-celebration to officially proclaim Akron as an All-America City, one of 10 cities nationwide selected for the honor.

Mayor Don Plusquellic, flanked by City Council members, Akron public school officials and students, city administrators, and business and civic leaders, took the Lock 3 stage to count down the unfurling of the 2008 All-America City banner.

"These folks represent groups, agencies and institutions that help this community move forward," Plusquellic said, applauding the 60 or so individuals with whom he shared the stage.

"It is all about people coming together to serve their community."

The crowd cheered and applauded enthusiastically as the massive banner rolled down from the top of a nearby parking deck.

The festival continues today with free admission before 1 p.m. and a $5 charge after that. Today's musical lineup includes instrumental jazz-fusion group Rare Blend, the smooth jazz sounds of Horns and Things, followed by the headliner, jazz guitarist Kevin Eubanks. The music begins at 3 p.m.

Carl Chancellor can be reached at 330-996-3725 or [email protected]


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