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Fourth is all about family fun

July 04, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

Tossing a smile at the people huddled under pavilions and trees at War Memorial Park on the Fourth of July, Jason Datoni, Zachary Hoff, Katie Barr and Brittany Crouse moved to the edge of a puddle growing on the blacktop.

"Ready?" Jason asked, giving each drenched friend one last look.

The puddle beckoning Jason and his friends to splash was, a few hours earlier, dry blacktop, filled with families enjoying a mild Independence Day at the park.

Celebrating at War Memorial Park is a tradition for many families in West Virginia.

In 2008, Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation provided a mix of live music, karaoke, a moon bounce, swimming and miniature golf to entertain families on the Fourth.

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Richard Rankin of Hedgesville, W.Va., said he brings his grandsons to the park every year to play a round of miniature golf, see the fireworks display and eat some good food.

"I can smell it," he said of the food.

The smell of grilling chicken, ribs, burgers and bratwursts wafted from charcoal grills in every corner of the park.

After all, Independence Day is the day for grilling, retired Navy Chief Edward Young said, turning a brat on his grill.

It is also a day for family, he said.

It can be tough to get family together for a holiday, Tony McDonald of Inwood, W.Va., said as he waited to play a round of miniature golf with his family.

July 4, he said, with its barbecues and fireworks seems to do the trick of bringing families together better than Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas trees.

While an afternoon downpour cut many Independence Day celebrations short, 10-year-old Jason said playing in the rain was just one more cool thing he got to do on July 4.

"Rain is fun, you get all wet," he said. "But we don't get to do fireworks, so it is kind of bad."

Standing in a line at the edge of the puddle, the four friends quickly forgot about fireworks as they waited for Jason to say "go."

With a cry of "Jump!" the four Martinsburg kids plunged repeatedly into the water, laughing as it splashed around them.

"Rain is so fun," Katie said.

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