God and Country Day is back on for July 4th


A man is seen in silhouette as he watches fireworks during God and Country Day held off U.S. 27 and County Road 225A in Ocala in this July 4, 2012 file photo.

Jacqui Janetzko/Star-Banner
Published: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 5:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 5:28 p.m.

OCALA — A day after announcing the 44th annual God and Country Day celebration on the Fourth of July was canceled, the Ocala Jaycees said it's back on.

Club President George Edwards confirmed Wednesday afternoon that insurance has been secured, and the annual Independence Day festivities are once again a go.

The day's activities begin about 1 p.m. on July 4 and run through a fireworks display at sunset. As in recent years, the celebration will be held near Golden Ocala at the intersection of U.S. 27 and County Road 225A.

"We're very excited and grateful," Edwards said. But, he added, the Jaycees still need volunteers to help with the event.

On Tuesday, the Jaycees announced they had to cancel the annual event because they could not secure insurance for the fireworks show. While club members were disappointed, the news caused near anguish around Marion County for much of Wednesday.

One woman wrote on Facebook that her first date with her husband was at the first God and Country Day 43 years ago. Others complained bitterly.

Among those disappointed was Michael Peters, former owner of the Ocala Raceway. He was one of several people in Ocala who contacted the Star-Banner on Wednesday with the possibility of an underwriter willing to insure the event.

"I'm a veteran, and some holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day are kind of special to me," Peters said. "Plus, it's a big deal for kids and families."

So, he said, he got on the phone, called friends and "some insurance companies I'm aware of to see what they could do." Peters said he has "seven years of experience presenting special events, including fireworks."

At least one of the insurers he contacted said yes, and the commitment documents were on his desk by late afternoon.

To help defray the cost, Peters said he donated $1,000; also donating similar amounts were Ride Now Motor Sports and Wells Fargo Bank, he said.

"This is a nice event for Ocala," he added. "It needs to stick around."

Edwards asked that anyone willing to offer some time to help that day to email him at president@jciocala.org.

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