41st Annual Red, White & Boom Launches 4th Weekend

By Ahwatukee Foothills News

As American Legion Post 64 Commander Ed Mangan readies his white, gold and blue summer uniform to wear for the 41st annual Red,White & Boom Fireworks Festival this Friday night, he said he can’t help but reflect on what Independence Day really means.

After all, he and the other four Post 64 color guard members who open the Friday, July 1 ceremonies, have all served their country, several in harm’s way.

“All five of us have served around the world, and it does make you stand and reflect,” said Mangen, a U.S. Air Force veteran active 1961 through 1979 who lives in Ahwatukee. “It really is a special day for us.”

Other American Legion members, all Ahwatukee residents, in this year’s color guard are Dave Von Tersch, U.S. Navy, 1970-1976; Pete Meier, U.S. Army, 1965-1971; Bob Smithson, U.S. Navy 1953-1974; Ken Dembiec, U.S. Air Force 1966-1987.

All five are Vietnam War veterans.

This is the ninth year Post 64 has presented the colors at Red, White & Boom. It is the second year the fireworks festival is at Pecos Park, 17010 S. 48th St., Ahwatukee.

“To me the Fourth of July is like Thanksgiving Day. The Air Force gave me the opportunity to get training in electronics and obtain my Bachelors of Science degree in electrical engineering from Arizona State University in 1973 for only $25,” said Mangan, who was recently diagnosed 100 percent disabled due to exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange while in Danang.

“I feel thankful for all of the blessings I got while serving in the Air Force. I feel honored to have served and finished my duty as a commissioned officer,” he added. “I reflect on that a great deal while I wear my American Legion uniform. And it’s really enjoyable when people come up and thank us for our service.”

While the Color Guard appears shortly before the 9 p.m. fireworks display, Red, White & Boom’s family-friendly events include a hula hoop contest and cherry pie eating competition that begin when gates open at 5 p.m..

Hosted by the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce, this year’s $5 entry fee was levied to help offset overhead, including park rental.

“The city has costs and we’re renting that space like anyone else,” said chamber President and CEO Anne Gill. “The minimal entry fee helps us cover the cost of doing business, but also, we’re able to provide a free and expanded Kids Zone. This is a family-focused event and we want to be able to have families come and enjoy this community event.”

Children 5 and under remain free.

There are two $25 VIP packages available; the centrally located – and more importantly, misted– Boom! Room sold out last year.

That package includes a catered meal and private bathrooms. It is within sight and view of the free main stage entertainment with Bluesman Mike & the Blues Review Band beginning at 5 p.m., and Georgia Chrome performing at 7 p.m..

Another $25-per-person fee area is the park’s Oasis Lounge with entertainment provided by iAloha Radio. Admission includes access to the swimming pool and water park area, private bathrooms, and bento box meals. Food is also available for purchase.

The chamber has announced all funds raised from the VIP packages support the Ahwatukee Red, White & Boom fireworks fund.

Tickets are available online, at the Chamber office through June 30th, or the day of the event while supplies last.

For more information, including FAQ’s, a list of tips, shuttles and driving and parking instructions:www.red-white-boom.com.

Getting there: Dedicated free parking with courtesy shuttle service will be available at the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park