The Beginning -
In 1974, Alcoa High School, being very active in the American Field Service (AFS) Program, wanted to show students from foreign counties how Americans celebrated Independence Day. Rose McConnell, an Alcoa resident, and Martha Wright, Alcoa High School teacher, came up with the idea of having a fireworks display. They contacted the then Fire Chief Clarence Story who agreed to assist them and suggested the Duck Pond area for the fireworks. The Alcoa High School AFS Club gave Rose and Martha $75.00 to buy fireworks. With fireworks not being sold in Blount County, they traveled Highway 411 into Loudon County to purchase their $75 of fireworks. When making their purchase, the owner gave them another $25.00 worth of fireworks free.
The Evolution -
For 40 years, FreedomFest evolved from $100 worth of fireworks being lit by cigars provided by the City Manager and later by flares on long sticks to an electronically fired 2008 show of over 7100 shells - all choreographed to a musical soundtrack production.
The event itself also experienced an evolution over the years. Time saw FreedomFest change from fireworks around the Duck Pond, to an evening event with food vendors and entertainment, to an all-day event in 2006 that expanded into Springbrook Park with expanded children’s activities, art and craft vendors, a teen area, military displays, a car and motorcycle cruise-in, and live entertainment. All free to the public.
FreedomFest Today –
Unfortunately, due to the economic conditions, 2009 saw a hiatus of FreedomFest. However, with the support of Alcoa, Inc. in celebrating their 100-year anniversary in Alcoa, FreedomFest returned in 2013. This year, it will again be bigger and better than ever - an evening event with stage entertainment, children’s activities, displays, and food and more beginning at 6:00 p.m., with the 20-minute fireworks show beginning approximately 9:40 p.m. The City of Alcoa’s FreedomFest hopes continue its long-standing tradition of being a community event for many near and far to enjoy.