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Phoenix hosting first Star Spangled Celebration

PHOENIX -- The city of Phoenix is hosting its' first-ever Star Spangled Celebration, starting at 5:00 p.m. Friday afternoon at Cesar Chavez Park.

It's designed as a party that will also honor veterans, and Phoenix police and firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty.

"We're going to have a water zone where kids can be sprayed by firefighters," said Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski. "We're going to have jumping castles, food, hot dogs, and live entertainment."

There will be a special area to honor those killed in the line of duty.

"We're calling it 'Hero Lane,'" said Nowakowski. "We have seven foot tall banners (that honor the heroes). They're on all of the light poles."

At 8:00 p.m., there will be a special ceremony.

"We're going to have some family members give testimonies about their loved ones that have passed away," Nowakowski said. "And then we're going to have these lanterns. People can actually write different people's names on them that have fallen, and we're going to lay them near the lake."

They will be in place there during a special fireworks show that starts at 9:00 p.m.

The event will be going on from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. this evening at the park, which is located near 35th Ave. and Baseline Road.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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