Awe inspiring, patriotism at its best, community oneness and an opportunity to serve are how Ron Clark describes America's Freedom Festival at Provo.
Clark, who is president of the festival this year, said the theme, "Hope of America," focuses on families and children and what they can do to better the country.The Freedom Festival is a three-week celebration of America's birthday comprised of 27 events run almost entirely by volunteers.
"We developed them primarily thinking about our youth that are the literal hope of America and the families that are the hope of America," Clark said. "We're talking about every element of family life there is out there."
Three events are new to the 1998 festival: the Junior Golf Classic, Interfaith Prayer Breakfast and the Student Spectacular, which occurred the first part of May.
- The Junior Golf Classic is June 29.
Tiger Woods, golf champion, has proved there is an absolute power, majesty and professionalism in youth, Clark said. There will be two age divisions for the junior golfing event at Cascade Golf Club in Orem.
"If it's going to benefit a good part of our audience base in the valley, we go for it and we incorporate that into our games, competition and fun," Clark said of the process used to determine new ev-ents of the festival.
He said the board approved the Interfaith Prayer Breakfast unanimously in five minutes.
"We now have an event that allows the clergy of our diverse religious community to come together and be unified through their own event," Clark said. "Now we have an event that belongs to the religious community. It is intended to be the official invocation to the July 4th holiday."
- The Interfaith Prayer Breakfast begins at 9 a.m. July 3 in the Provo Tabernacle. Robert H. Schuller, known for his television program, "Hour of Power," from the Crystal Cathedral in California, will be the keynote speaker.
It will be "where people of all religious denominations can come together in their own attitude of prayer and pray for peace and posterity and continuation of upholding the Constitution and really contemplate and come together in prayer as a people," Clark said.
This event will help people bond together as a community, instead of by one faith, he said.
- Prior to Schuller's address, there will be a free continental breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at Tabernacle Park.
Each year, the presidency of the Freedom Festival rotates to a board member who is then responsible at the end of one festival to start planning the following year's celebration. Clark came up with this year's theme during the Grand Parade last summer.
While watching children in the parade he decided the theme for 1998 should incorporate families and children. The next three or four themes will build off "Hope of America," he said.
When thinking about the theme, Clark said he would like people to analyze where they are as a family.
"I would want every adult leader who has any contact with youth, whatsoever, to take more seriously their role as examples to the youth," he said. "I would want them to encourage kids to be better, to teach them, to train them, and to believe in them. Adults need to believe in our young people."
Clark said he would like adults to sit back and take a look at their personal narrow-mindedness regarding youth. "These are not bad kids, they are expressing themselves. They are expressing themselves because they are going to have to fight for their freedoms in the future," he said. "They are being brought up in difficult times."
Highlights of the Freedom Festival will include the Patriotic Service, Grand Parade and Stadium of Fire.
- President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church, will speak at the service Sunday, June 28, at 5:45 p.m. There will also be a 1,998-member non-denominational family choir performing.
- The Grand Parade is the largest of its kind in the state. It begins at 9 a.m. July 4 at 960 N. University Ave.
- The Stadium of Fire is the culminating Freedom Festival event at 8:15 p.m. July 4 at Cougar Stadium. Huey Lewis & the News, a popular band from the 1980s, and the Flying Elvi will perform before the fireworks display gets under way.
- Other events include a baby contest, softball and volleyball tournament, picnic, balloon festival and arts festival.
For more information about the Freedom Festival, visit their web-site at (www.freedomfestival.org).
"There is something for everyone this year, literally," Clark said.