Let Freedom Ring celebrates 59th year

Nelson Farms, located north of Mt. Morris on West Grove Road, brought back its iconic "Pork and Piglets" float for this year's Let Freedom Ring Grand Parade in Mt. Morris on July 4. The mama pig leads with a sign saying "If You Want a Real Treat Eat Pork" with the piglets adding "The Other White Meat - Nelson Farms."

MT. MORRIS — Let Freedom Ring’s 59th year went well, despite a monsoon-like downpour on Ronald Reagan’s reappearance.

“It was a great turnout most of the weekend,” LFR Committee Chairperson Tiffany West said.

Let Freedom Ring is Mt. Morris’ annual Independence Day festival. This year’s event took place Wednesday, June 29, and Friday through Monday, July 1-4.

The Little Miss and Mister Firecracker contest drew six entrants, with the winners declared on June 29. John Murphy, 4, was crowned Little Mister, and Ahniya Wheeler, 5, earned the title of Little Miss.

More than 1,000 people attended the Friday night concert, West said. Saturday was a bit slower, but still good, she said.

Friday was the night LFR committee members were selling root beer floats, which ended up presenting an interesting challenge. Committee members ran out of root beer and ice cream a few times, forcing them to go on grocery runs.

“We served about 200 root beer floats that night,” West said.

Sunday drew their largest ever number of entries — 35 children — to the Kiddie Parade, and although a heavy rain on Monday chased away a few people following the Patriotic Program, they were able to start the Grand Parade only a few minutes late, she said.

“It looked like it was a great turnout for the Patriotic Program,” West said. “The weather, I believe, did impact the bell ringing right after the Patriotic Program.”

Mark Tremble of Oregon, portrayed Reagan reenacting his visit to Mt. Morris years ago.

The downpour cleared up in time for organizers to make the call around 1:30 p.m. that the parade would start just after 2 p.m., she said.

“Once we made that call, everybody was great and joined in and got ready to do their part in the parade,” West said. “It worked out great. I do feel that we didn’t have as many turn out for the parade because of the weather. Normally, the streets are lined, and for the most part it was, but there were patches here and there where there weren’t people.”

That rain shower was the biggest challenge, she said.

On Monday evening, Jeff Warren was selected as the 50/50 raffle winner, and Dawn Hale’s ticket was picked, signaling she would be the one to set off the fireworks show.

July 4, 2023, lands on a Tuesday, which will present its own challenges, West said. Still, she’s looking forward to it.

“I always look forward to the parade and fireworks,” West said. “Just everybody getting together and having a good time.”

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner covers Ogle County for the Oregon Republican Reporter, Forreston Journal, Mt. Morris Times and Polo Tri-County Press. She has six-plus years of experience in journalism and has won numerous awards.