PROVO The audience began chanting "Miley, Miley," but it took several minutes before 'tween pop star Miley Cyrus stepped on stage at the Stadium of Fire Friday night.
The instant the 15-year-old singer and actress, best known for her role on Disney's "Hannah Montana," appeared and started singing "Start All Over" into a rhinestone-studded microphone, LaVell Edwards Stadium erupted with thousands of girls screaming, clapping, cheering and singing along.
Stadium of Fire, a massive concert-and-fireworks show, is the "crowning jewel" of America's Freedom Festival at Provo and the ultimate Fourth of July celebration for many Utah residents. Some 58,000 were expected to attend the event.
Emcee Glenn Beck, CNN's popular talk-show host, thanked Utah for a warm welcome.
"I have been to Fourth of July celebrations with my family in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., been to New York, but I mean it with every fiber in my being," Beck said. "There is no place like being here on the Fourth of July. You are incredible people."
And with that, he put on a Brigham Young University hat to tremendous applause. After a pledge, the National Anthem and a fighter-jet flyover, 1,300 dancers, along with 150 athletes, re-enacted every event in the Summer Olympics in just seven minutes.
Also, there were video remembrances to honor the men and women serving in the military and their families, plus three families who got a special time to talk with their soldiers in Baghdad.
"I love you, baby," said Staff Sgt. Brock Jones via video screen, as he addressed his wife, Amy-Jo, in the audience. "It's so good to see you guys."
After the patriotic celebrations, Blue Man Group burst on stage with shiny heads and large white pipes shortened or elongated to create sounds. Teaching the crowd how to "be a rock star," the group had the whole crowd waving their hands in the air, doing the one-hand fist pump and head-banging, all while creating guitar-backed pipe music.
But it was Cyrus who really got the cheers, with songs like "Good and Broken," "7 Things" and "See You Again."
Cyrus' popular show began in 2006. She now has fans around the world.
Among those fans are Zoee Pinter and Karlie Renner, both 10, who walked into LaVell Edwards Stadium with looks of excitement and awe.
Clad in pink "Hannah Montana" hats and matching shirts, they squealed with excitement and hugged each other as they tried to explain how excited they were. On the other side of the stadium, Karli Wennerholm, 13, was with a group of friends all wearing matching, homemade Miley Cyrus shirts. They've all been watching the show since it came out.
However, Cyrus, who performed at the massive fireworks show, which ended the Independence Day celebration, wasn't the selling part for the parents.
"He wants to see Blue Man Group," said Janet Ballif, pointing to her husband, Joe, as they waited in the bleachers. "I'm here for the fireworks. I love the fireworks."
Tickets were somewhat difficult to obtain. Lucky ones bought them on the day they went on sale while others had to haggle with scalpers. On the east bleachers, 12-year-old Montana Olander said she cried for an hour after her grandmother called her two hours before the show to tell her she'd won tickets through a contest.
"You should see my room," she said, explaining it was plastered with Cyrus paraphernalia.
She and her friend 10-year-old Tara Roilance sat in the east bleachers, next to their purple "Hannah Montana" bags, "Hannah" lip gloss and "Hannah" lotion."She's just a real good role model," Olander said. "She's not bad at all. She sets out a good example for kids."
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