May 31, 2002 11:00 pm

Union County residents and visitors will have two opportunities to celebrate the nation's freedom and independence next month.

This year's fireworks show will be held on Friday, July 5, at Community Stadium with the theme "Celebrate America."

The Fireworks Action Committee, a group of volunteers that puts on the annual fireworks display, is encouraging local residents to celebrate July 4 with their families and then come out Friday evening to "Celebrate America" with the community.

Bruce Weimer, committee chairman and La Grande's fire chief, said the double celebration will be significant in light of the patriotism and national spirit that has occurred since Sept. 11.

The La Grande Fire Department again will provide water games and fire truck rides prior to Friday's aerial display. The patriotic "Kiddies Parade" will start at about 7 p.m., followed by musical entertainment.

Then at around 10 p.m., a spectacular fireworks display will cap off the evening.

"We'll be spending more than $10,000 on our fireworks show and related expenses," said Weimer.

Letters are being sent to local individuals and businesses that have supported the fireworks show in the past, Weimer said.

"We are asking everyone to dig deeply and help make our special ‘Celebrate America' event a big success."

A new fund-raising event being offered is a drawing for a five-minute shopping spree at Shop'n Kart and other valuable prizes.

Tickets are $2 each, said fund-raising chairman Steve Combs. The drawing will be held the night of the fireworks.

To purchase tickets call 963-8842 or contact a member of the fireworks committee. Members include Weimer, Combs, Doc Halliday, Don Keeling, Darrel Linklater, Judy Loudermilk, Dave Stave, Frank Thomas, Matt Graves, Sue Briggs and Mary Brock.

"We want everyone to enjoy Independence Day and come out the next night for the fireworks and to celebrate America," Weimer said.