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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (July 4, 2013) -- Pops on the River, presented by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and sponsored by Arkansas' Best Chevy Dealers, will take place Thursday, July 4, in downtown Little Rock in the River Market/First Security Bank Amphitheater.

The event holds true to its roots by continuing to offer free family entertainment with a performance by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and a fireworks finale, but has expanded over the years to include more activities and events for festival goers.

"This year we wanted to do something special for the community in celebration of our 30th anniversary," said Tabitha Cunningham, events manager at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. "To celebrate our nation's independence, we will be honoring our troops through our Salute the Troops Campaign, which includes a letter writing campaign and video-recorded messages for our attendees."

Salute the Troops, which is sponsored by St. Vincent, is a three-part campaign to honor the men and women in the armed forces. Throughout the day, a letter-writing station will be set up for children in our Kids Pavilion (open noon-8:30 p.m.) where letters can be written (or pictures drawn) to the troops serving overseas through the A Million Thanks campaign. From 5:30-9:30 p.m., a Salute the Troops tent will be sent up to record video messages to the troops. The videos will appear on www.arkansasonline.com/salute. Those who are not able to make the event can upload their own video to the website through July to honor these men and women.

Other events/attractions at this year's Pops include The Chevy Car Pavilion will feature the newest lines of cars and trucks. "Think of it as a mini car show," said Cunningham. Chevy will also make a special flip book for everyone who stops by.

The Kids Pavilion, sponsored by Arkansas Children's Hospital, will include bounce houses, games, crafts, live music, face painting and caricatures by John Deering, cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Also at the event is a classic car show, a marketplace for shopping and, of course, food trucks with traditional (and not so traditional) fair food. Live music will be played throughout the day and evening, including local acts Mister Morphis, Kirk Anderton, the Oh Say! Can You Sing? contestants and the Happy Tymes Jazz Band.

The gates will open to the First Security Amphitheater at 5:30 p.m. for the other planned entertainment that is the backbone of the event, including Arkansas Symphony Orchestra concert, will begin at 8:30 p.m. with Music Director Philip Man conducting. Fireworks, sponsored by St. Vincent, will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m. and are shot off the Main Street Bridge. This year's show will be 30 minutes to mark the 30th anniversary. Fireworks used at Pops are 100 percent made in the U.S.A.

A complete schedule of events is available online.

Transportation and free parking are provided for festivalgoers. The route includes stops at the Clinton Presidential Center, the U.S. Post Office, the Arkansas Arts Center and the River Market, where the event will be held. Free parking is available at each trolley stop, and trolley service is free.

The following roads will close between 5 and 11 p.m.: Rock, Ottenheimer, Commerce and the Main Street Bridge.

The event is free to the public. People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the festivities. Amphitheater seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. The public can reserve amphitheater seating for only $10 prior to the event through the Pops on the River website. No fireworks, food, drinks, coolers or pets will be allowed in the park.

The event's benefiting charity this year is Ronald McDonald House Charities. The event is supported by sponsors Arkansas' Best Chevy Dealers, Delta Dental, Chick-fil-A, St. Vincent and the City of Little Rock, among others.

For more information about this event, call Tabitha Cunningham at (501) 918-4539 or visit www.arkansasonline.com/pops.

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