By Michael Buhler
After taking a hiatus for a few years, the Fourth of July celebration in Viola made a triumphant return last Thursday.
The celebration, which was sponsored by the city of Viola and the Viola Lions Club, kicked off with a picnic at 7 p.m., featuring hamburgers, hot dogs and an assortment of covered dishes. Later that evening, a fireworks display pro- vided a fitting finale to the celebration.
“We had a pretty good turnout,” Viola mayor Everett Donham said. “We didn’t have quite as many as I thought we’d have, but it worked out pretty well. We had a great time and everyone else had a great time as well.”
Thomas Phillips, who lives just outside of town, also was pleased to see the Independence Day cel- ebration return to Viola.
“The community was ready for it,” Phillips said. “I think it’s good seeing that we still can celebrate it, get together and enjoy some food and fireworks.”
Longtime Viola resident Bonnie Gerlach en- joyed the opportunity to see friends and neighbors while celebrating the nation’s birth.
Residents enjoy their meal.
“You get to see your neighbors,” Gerlach said,” and you get to see the people out in the country. You don’t get to see just the ones in town.”
Like may others at the picnic, Phillips enjoyed the food and the chance to celebrate the Fourth.
“These people have been cooking for a lot of years and they know what they’re doing,” Phillips said. “Most of them are Lions Club members, so they’ve cooked for a long time.”
Phillips credits the Lions Club for the success of the event – and many other things – in Viola.
“Without the Lions Club, I don’t think there would be much left of Viola,” Phillips said. “They maintain the park, they maintain the community building and they built the scoreboard at the ballpark. They pretty much keep things going.”
After the picnic ended, the fireworks started going up and off at dark.
“It went well,” Donham said of the fireworks display. "It lasted almost an hour. We had a lot of fireworks.”
Donham expects the resurrected Fourth celebration to continue to improve in coming years.
“I think it will just keep getting better,” Donham said. “A lot of the old-timers around showed up. I think if we keep putting it on, it will just get better.”
Gerlach also is excited to have the celebration back in town.
“It’s nice to have it back,” Gerlach said. “I don’t remember how long it’s been since we’d had one.”