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'Old Fashioned 4th of July in Heritage Park' celebrates Independence Day, showcases BCS non-profits

Posted at 11:28 AM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-05 12:28:57-04

BRYAN, TEXAS  — An event with a history spanning 35 years finally made its' return to Bryan this past Sunday. An anticipated return after being canceled last year.

The Old Fashioned 4th of July in Heritage Park wasn't only a good time for the family, but also exposure for area non-profits.

"It started as a neighborhood celebration and has morphed into a community celebration," Stephanie Hilliard, President of the Brazos Heritage Society said.

Held in Bryan's east-side, the annual 'Old Fashioned 4th of July' was held for the 35th time this Independence Day. A one-of-a-kind event, organizers say.

"Because, you know, most people think of 4th of July they think of big fireworks and big crowds and things and this is more of a family gathering," Hilliard added.

Good times focused on family fun, but that's not all.

"We wanted to get them out in front of the community. Make them more visible," Hilliard added. "We just thought this is a good focus that fits in well with our non-commercial approach to this celebration."

Hilliard is talking about non-profits in Bryan College Station, some of which made an appearance for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the A and M Garden club.

"This is the first one we have been able to do," Michelle Wehrheim, current President of the A and M Garden Club, said in relation to events on behalf of the club due to the pandemic.

The A and M Garden Club has been giving away plants at this event for the last 5 years and returned to share their plant love in public Sunday.

"Some people offer to make a donation, but we just give them to them. They are extra plants from our yards that have multiplied. They are pass-along plants," Judy Schafer, a member of the A and M Garden Club said.

"We are trying to promote a love for planting and growing friendships," Wehrheim added.

The unique community exposure leaving those who run non-profits thankful to be able to promote their passions once again.

"We are celebrating our 60th anniversary, so we are here to promote our exhibits and let people know all about the Museum and the wonderful things we have there. We have done some First Friday events, but this is really our major first booth event since the pandemic," Deborah Cowman, Executive Director of the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History said.

Hoping to feel inspired to take a deeper dive into the community and celebrate Independence Day all in one, residents say this event gives them that old-time feeling everyone loves.

"The museum has participated in it for years and years and we wouldn't miss it," Cowman added.

"So far I think we liked everything...The music is fun.. Free little gifts for kids... It's really great," College Station resident Falk Hassler said.

"I am hoping they will take away a little bit of the Americana, that's maybe been lost in some of the commercial celebrations and things," Hilliard said.

Heritage Park, Hilliard says, is where the celebration has been held every year of its' existence and it's special to keep it going.

"Especially because we lost one of our founders in February, Judge Tom McDonald. He was one of the key people that not only started the celebration, but was also instrumental in getting the Heritage Society started," Hilliard said.