Area parks, lakes and backyards are expected to be hot spots of activity on the Fourth of July as Copperas Cove residents and others across Central Texas celebrate Independence Day.
“Most families have barbecues and just socialize with each other,” said Willie Fields, a veteran who has lived in Copperas Cove since 1992.
For Fields, the holiday means reflecting on how the nation received its freedom and gained its independence, but it’s also the perfect time for family. Getting together and cooking with his family has been a tradition since he can remember, he said.
“I looked forward to it because my grandparents had Chelton ponies, and it was the only time that we could go out there and ride the ponies,” he said. “I have looked forward to it since then. I have that same feeling now, even though I am 66 years old, as I did when I was 10 or 12 years old.”
Fields plans to cook for his family Thursday and share stories.
Copperas Cove Parks and Recreation officials anticipate a busy weekend for both South Park and City Park, said Mark Willingham, a department spokesman.
“When there is a holiday weekend coming up, families usually go out to the parks and enjoy the atmosphere,” Willingham said. “And we do see that even more when it is a holiday weekend.”
The two parks that have pools and picnic areas with grills will definitely see an increase in usage.
“If people don’t have any major plans then they will stay local and they will go the park and go to the pools for a nice family outing,” Willingham said.
Texas Parks and Wildlife is anticipating similar turnouts at area lakes, where people enjoy spending the holiday, said Billy Champlin, a game warden spokesman.
“These area lakes here still have very good public accessibility,” Champlin said. “The water levels are still high enough for people to get their boats in the water. These lakes appear very active ... and just because it is a holiday weekend and because people have time off there will be more people out.”
Fields and Willingham said Texas family traditions for the holiday generally revolve around family, water, food and fireworks, making Stillhouse Hollow or Belton lakes both places Cove residents may visit that day.
“Those big parks — Dana Peak, Stillhouse, and Temple Lake Park — will be busy and the (Army Corps of Engineers) may stop allowing people when they get to capacity,” Champlin said. “But that means people will find the other parks where they can get into the water. Normally on these busy weekends all the parks are utilized.”
Fort Hood’s Independence Celebration is another option for residents. The public event takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. July 4 and features live music, activities, food vendors and a 30-minute fireworks display.
“Years ago, we used go out on U.S. (Highway) 190 and watch the fire works, but now we don’t want to mess with the traffic,” Fields said. “But where I live, you can still see the fireworks.”