Thousands of Sherman residents and visitors filled Pecan Grove Park West on Tuesday night to celebrate Independence Day and attend the annual Lights on the Lake concert series and fireworks show.


The event, now in its ninth year, welcomed an estimated 10,000 spectators, who enjoyed everything from bounce houses and burgers to live musical performances and water slides.


“The day we celebrate our freedom across the country is also a pretty big deal in the city of Sherman,” Mayor David Plyler said.


Tourism/Main Street Manager Sarah McRae said planning for this year’s event began as soon as last summer’s show wrapped. McRae said the event always features the expected staples and traditions of the Fourth of July, but she was glad to include a special performance this year from one of America’s military branches.


“I had been hoping to bring in an even more patriotic element to it, especially since this is our big Independence Day celebration and it kicks off the others in the area,” McRae said. “So this year we’re glad to have the U.S. Air Force band and that’s something great we’ve never gotten to do before.”


But perhaps the most anticipated band to hit the stage Tuesday night was 38 Special. The American rock group was formed in 1974, released four platinum albums and is known for hits including “Hold on Loosely” and “Caught Up in You.”


“This was a band we had been talking about and wanted to see if our schedules would fit together and that we could book them for something,” McRae said. “Thankfully, they did and we were so glad to have them come out. And it just so happens that they’re one of our mayor’s favorite bands.”


“I’m fond of classic rock bands and that’s no secret,” Plyler said. “38 Special is such a great band with such wide range of songs. So I’m sure they’ll play something for everyone tonight.”


McRae said other changes to this year’s Lights on the Lake included expanded parking options, as well as improved traffic and crowd management.


“One of the other things we were really able to address this year was the disability transportation shuttle,” McRae said. “Since there are so many people walking around, it was really hard last year to get the golf carts safely through all the people and to those who needed the service. So, this year, we’ve got some pick-up and drop-off sites that are clearly marked both inside and outside the park. We really made an effort to address and remedy the things that might deter or even prevent someone from joining us.”


McRae said while thousands of visitors made their way to Pecan Grove Park, the show’s fireworks also created many neighborhood parties throughout the viewing area, giving even more people a chance to socialize and celebrate.


Jessica Kelsoe was one of the thousands of spectators who attended the show. As she sat in a lawn chair overlooking the park, Kelsoe said she was proud to celebrate the day with her family and honor the meaning of Independence Day.


“I just like it because it’s something good for the kids to do, a chance for the family to get out and see friends, gather round and celebrate our freedom, something meaningful,” Kelsoe said.