NEEDLES – Around 225 people celebrated the 243rd year of freedom in the United States with Independence Day festivities at the Needles Aquatic Center, hosted this year by BPO Elks Lodge 1608.

The festivities featured the crowd-favorite Pie the Lifeguard event, a no-hands watermelon eating contest, prizes and more.

Every Fourth of July the aquatic center holds a family-friendly themed event which people from the Tri-state and beyond come to enjoy.

“This is a great event and we are having a great time,” said Dian Holtsclaw of Mohave Valley. “This was the first time that we have come here in the 30 years that I have lived across the river. We enjoyed the music, watching the watermelon eating contest and danced to some of the music.”

Holtsclaw’s daughter, Emma Holtsclaw, agreed and stated that her children had a blast in the pool and participating in the events.

“There are lots of things to do for the kids,” said Chris Wallingford. “It’s great that we have an event like this because by the time we get home they are ready to go to sleep.”

One of the most anticipated events was the Mr. Firecracker and Miss Freedom pageant for boys and girls ages three to five. Each contestant answered a couple of questions such as who is their hero and what is their favorite TV show. They also got to demonstrate a talent.

Once all the contestants had gone the lifeguards took a couple of minutes to choose a winner. Luke Fitch was awarded the Mr. Firecracker honor and Lacey Goetz won the Miss Freedom award.

In order for the aquatic center to give away prizes, they had to obtain sponsors who would partner with them for the giveaways. BPO Elks Lodge 1608 was the overall sponsor for the Fourth of July festivities at the aquatic center, picking up entry fees for the participants.

Other sponsors included: DECO Food Service, Desert Hair and Nail Design, Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 2599, The Healing Center, Munchy’s, Saint Vincent De Paul, River City Pizza, Valdez Mexican Grill, Lucy’s Mexican Restaurant and the Sweet Spot.

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