It was like old times. Music playing, the smell of popcorn in the air, a sea of people. We have been through a lot in the past 15 or so months. However, this past weekend reminded us that tough times may come but we as a people can overcome.
Celebrating the Fourth of July this year took on an even greater meaning. Honoring the hard work, sacrifice and perseverance that our founding fathers, those serving in our military and those that work every day to keep this country free and pursuing justice and freedom for all, the skies lit up over Walt Disney World Resort for the first time in 15 months.
Beginning July 1st with the spectacular return of Happily Ever After and Epcot Forever, we watched with yes, a tear (or several) in our eyes. It wasn’t just another fireworks display that was happening but a reminder that we as a people can and do overcome great obstacles that come before us.
Another time-honored tradition that returned to the Most Magical Place on Earth was the flag retreat on Main Street U.S.A.
Supporting our nation’s military heroes, this tradition dates back to the founding of The Walt Disney Company. For decades, Disney Parks have recognized our nation’s active-duty military and veterans with stirring daily flag retreat ceremonies. Held at both Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida and Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, these popular offerings give Disney the opportunity to offer sincere gratitude to those who serve and defend our nation.
Magic Kingdom Park welcomed back their daily flag retreat July 1, resuming the tradition of selecting an active-duty military member or veteran from among that park’s daily visitors. As shadows grew long in the late afternoon in Town Square, many watched silently as a guest U.S. Air Force veteran joined members of Magic Kingdom’s security team to respectfully lower the flag and carry it in a processional down Main Street, U.S.A. The ceremony included the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and the singing of “God Bless America” and the “Star Spangled Banner,” accompanied by the Main Street Philharmonic marching band.
“It has been an honor for our security cast to keep our flag flying every day over Magic Kingdom since the park first opened in 1971,” said Army veteran Eileen Underwood, Magic Kingdom’s senior security manager. “We were thrilled to resume our daily flag retreat ceremonies to honor our country and those who serve around the world in defense of our freedoms. It’s a special moment for all our guests that really reaffirms the feeling that this is truly a magical place.”
With things progressively returning to the “normal” we once knew, having the flag retreat back, watching the incredible nighttime spectaculars and seeing Cinderella Castle lit up in red, white and blue on this holiday weekend celebrating what we can become as a nation, well, is breathtaking and reflective.
Wishing everyone a safe, healthy and Happy Fourth of July and looking forward to many more memorable occasions to come!
Disney Parks Blog: Spokesmayne