Local communities celebrate Hot Rock’n Fourth of July

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(Photo: Jamii Freston) Hundreds gather to cheer on derby carnage at the Hot Rock’n Fourth of July event.

With clear skies and 99-degree weather, many found something to enjoy at the 14th annual “Hot Rock’n 4th” event Friday at Lorin Farr Park in Ogden.

With over 16,000 people attending, the show kicked off at 1 p.m. with musical performances and a demolition derby, and ended at 10 p.m. with a firework finale.

While celebrating America’s independence, the “Hot Rock’n 4th” event hosted Utah’s largest fireworks show and demolition derby while also providing other impressive activities throughout the day.

“The unique thing about this event is that it’s really a fair in one day,” said Event Organizer and American Dream Foundation Founder John Gullo, whose biggest fear was either nobody or too many people attending.

Along with all the activities, such as car shows and on-stage performances, the heart of the show was the demolition derby which draws the crowd and keeps them coming back.

“You come to a demolition derby and for one minute, you know the object of the game: it’s about carnage,” said Gullo, who said nearly 60 percent of the audience was there for the largest derby in the western United States.

Jordan Gullo, assistant event coordinator and senior at Southern Utah University, also agrees that the derby is definitely their biggest attraction. “Demolition derbies are entertaining for the crashes,” he said. “People like wrecks. People like carnage.”

With the demolition show being a consistent appeal to the crowd, John Gullo also implemented new activities to help fill the time while the arena is being cleared.

His latest idea included a donated trailer filled to the brim with mud. Poker chips linked to prizes are strewn in the trailer and 20 people are chosen to dive into the mud. As people trudge for the chips, the trailer is pulled around the arena for all to see.

“It’s amazing how many people want to do it and the prizes are really worthwhile,” said John Gullo, who gave away prizes including all-terrain vehicles and high-quality grills to the lucky contestants.

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(Photo: Jamii Freston) The firework finale captured the Fourth of July celebration at Lorin Farr Park.

Besides being one of the largest Fourth of July events in Utah, the “Hot Rock’n 4th” also has an all-volunteer staff and is one of the largest benefits to charity. It is sponsored by over 20 companies.

According to Natalie Summers, an event coordinator, more than 500 volunteers sacrificed their holiday to help give back to the community.

“They (volunteers) do such a great job and without them we just couldn’t do it,” said Summers, who said money made at the event is divided up between charities, offering them a way to earn money while giving the community a great and affordable event

Jordan Gullo also pointed out that volunteering, especially as a college student, allows you to build connections and learn different ways of life outside your own little bubble.

“Volunteering and supporting the community can be beneficial for not only you personally, but you can watch the change happen in other people’s lives too,” he said.

John Gullo marveled that the whole event is run solely on volunteers and hoped people attending would find something to enjoy and pride in our country on the Fourth of July.

“I hope people get  a sense of belonging and a sense of feeling that this is ours, that this is our country,” he said.

With all-day activities and a complete volunteer staff, the “Hot Rock’n 4th” builds not only its reputation but the community as well.

“It’s a family tradition for a lot of people,” said Summers. “It’s just good, family fun, and there’s a little something for everybody out here, and that’s why it works.”