Spirit of Freedom Preps Underway

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - Preparations are underway for the largest party of the year in the Shoals.

The stages are almost set, and the fences are going up in Florence's McFarland Park.

Year after year, tens of thousands of people will flock to the banks of the Tennessee River for the Spirit of Freedom Celebration.

"Ours is very unique for a lot of reasons, but especially because of the setting and being on the banks of the Tennessee River, you just can't beat that," says Debbie Wilson, Director of Florence-Lauderdale Tourism.

Planning for the 31st annual event started just days after last year’s festivities.

And even though the holiday falls on a Wednesday this year, Wilson still expects big things.

"We still expect the crowds to be fairly large, because some people who would normally go out of town are staying because it's in the middle of the week."

And according to Wilson the heat has been a big concern for organizers.

Coolers with water bottles inside will be allowed in this year’s event and Wilson says bring plenty of it.

"It is a concern, and the EMA folks are ready for that”, says Wilson. “We are definitely prepared with ambulances on site; they have an area for AirEvac and those kinds of people. So there's a lot more prep this year really, and a lot more discussion going on about the heat."

And with temperatures creeping up near 100 degrees, Wilson urges people to take care of themselves, especially those arriving early in the day.

Now you can bring coolers for water and drinks, but no alcohol will be allowed.

Umbrellas can be used in the beach area, but no tents for shade.

The first of eleven bands will start at 1pm, with fireworks starting around 9.

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