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The Daily Herald
Provo, Utah

3 July 2005

25 years of patriotism

Lucy Mention:
Actress Lucy Lawless, best known for her role as "Xena: Warrior Princess," sang a song she said she wrote while she was expecting her son.



Just prior to Saturday night's Stadium of Fire bash at Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo, actress Debbie Reynolds, of

 "Singing in the Rain" fame, made a light-hearted prediction.

"It's not going to rain -- did I tell you about that?" she said at a news conference in the stadium's Cougar Room.
"I spoke to the Lord and told him that I made the movie and that's enough."

Fortunately for Reynolds and everyone else in and around the stadium, the Lord had no plans for a sequel Saturday night.

Despite gray clouds that threatened a downpour throughout the show, Reynolds, singer/actress Mandy Moore, country band Lonestar and other performers avoided singing in the rain, braving instead heavy winds as they cranked out a fast-paced show in front of a near-capacity stadium.

This year's show marked the 25th anniversary of the Stadium of Fire, started by Alan Osmond in 1980 as a patriotic celebration.

Hundreds of volunteers participated, including 15-year-old Kylie Stangler from Brigham City. Stangler, who said she enjoyed the "adrenaline rush and the chance to support our troops," joined about 300 other Stadium of Fire Dancers to kick off the show, which was broadcast to troops around the world on American Forces TV.

Early in the show, a live satellite feed from Iraq brought three grinning American soldiers to the giant screens in the stadium. Staff Sgt. Bart Johnson, Staff Sgt. David Moreno and Sgt. Lawrence Kittell greeted the crowd and their own families, which were seated in the stands.

"Hello Provo. We wish we could be there with you but we're in Iraq doing our job," Kittell said over the satellite feed. "It's great you guys are supporting us like this."

Moreno and Johnson also spoke to the crowd and sent their love to their families. Bart Johnson's wife, Heidi, sent her tearful hello over the airwaves from where she was seated in the stands. "I love you, and I miss you, and I'm so proud of you."

An impressive fly-over by four Air Force pilots rocked the stadium just after 8 p.m.

Reynolds, Moore and Lonestar performed several songs each. Actress Lucy Lawless, best known for her role as "Xena: Warrior Princess," sang a song she said she wrote while she was expecting her son.

The show ended with Alan Osmond lowering a switch to ignite just over 1 million firecrackers, followed by a 25-minute firework finale that exploded over the stadium.

As usual, hundreds of blankets covered the landscape surrounding the stadium, where hundreds of families waited until 10 p.m. for the fireworks show.

Warren Forbes hauled his children from Springville to spread blankets on the lawn at the southwest corner of the stadium.

"We're basically here to see the fireworks," he said. "The kids want to get as close as possible."

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. did find a seat inside and attended Stadium of Fire for the first time.

"This has for 25 years been a celebration of our nation's freedom," he said. "We decided to pack the kids in the car and come on down."

Seated near Huntsman was Glen Embry, who served for 23 years in the U.S. Army and Air Force and 17 years after that as a civil servant for the Air Force. "I'm especially pleased to see the military here in uniform," he said. "I drive all the way down from Layton to be here. There are a lot of shows, but they don't top this one."