When grilling out, leave it to the pros

ONG gas line replacement project now underway in Yukon neighborhoods

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Yet again this year, I interviewed Yukon’s fire chief about the dangers of handling fireworks. They are, in fact, illegal inside City limits but you’ll see fireworks lighting up the nighttime sky in the outskirts of our fine town this week.

Each year, the fire chief reports that people should leave the fireworks to the professionals. This year, that means coming to Freedom Fest and watching the displays offered by ARC Pyrotechnics – the Guthrie company hired by the city council to shoot off these sparkling July 3rd and July 4th noise makers. Grab your lawn chair and put the dog in the basement.

The fire chief’s message, under the familiar headline “Leave it to the pros,” has been delivered to Yukon newspaper readers for decades. Our recent page 1 story featuring Yukon Fire Chief Shawn Vogt was eerily familiar to past articles I’ve penned after speaking with previous fire chiefs – from Bob Noll to Jeff Lara to Kevin Jones.

The last time I shot off fireworks myself was about a dozen years ago in Shawnee. As long as I’m in Yukon, I’ll just “leave it to the pros” to avoid the possible $271 fine and misplaced fingers.

Some people think it’s silly that they can’t shoot off fireworks in Yukon. They think it’s more likely you’ll start a fire grilling out on your back patio.

I can see their point after a near-disaster Tuesday night in the backyard of my home behind Yukon High School. A stiff wind blew over my grill, spewing hot charcoal into the grass nearly forcing me to call 911. My quick action in grabbing the garden hose averted a conflagration of epic proportion.

It could have been a great spot news story, which I haven’t been able to cover lately.
My advice to those of you thinking about charcoal grilling this hot holiday weekend? Keep your grill a safe distance from the dry grass (of just use propane).

This July 4th, I will leave the grilling up to a pro … grill-master Bart Nicholson.

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The dog days of July are upon us as we ready our bodies and minds for triple-digit temps.
When people ask me what I dislike about Oklahoma, I typically respond, “July and August” … owing to the Sahara Desert-like heat.

My suggestion is to find a cool pool or lake to jump into, or running through a water sprinkler.

The City of Yukon, undaunted by the COVID-19 pandemic, is fortunately offering an Independence Day celebration again this year. Although it will be scaled back, the two-day Freedom Fest 2020 will feature the traditional patriotic music, classic car show, spectacular fireworks, veterans’ tribute, and food you’ve come to enjoy.

You won’t see the full Oklahoma City Philharmonic (“under the direction of Maestro Joel Levine”). That will have to wait until Sounds of the Season in December!

Audience members will get to enjoy the “ultimate disco party band” Super Freak with their ample hairpieces for a-can’t miss 5:30 p.m. Saturday show followed by the Oklahoma Community Orchestra at 8:30 p.m.

Crowds no doubt will be slimmed down some as people endeavor to practice social (also known as physical) distancing. It will be interesting to see how many people wear masks this weekend at the Yukon City Park complex.

Several July 4th events had to be canceled, however, namely the Cherry Bomb Triathlon, children’s parade, hot dog eating contest, and free swim.

We all should be thankful to live in a community that places an emphasis on celebrating our nation’s independence. I recall one year in the early ‘90s when Yukon offered absolutely NOTHING on July 4th.

Safe, family friendly outdoor celebrations like Yukon’s Freedom Fest provide a prime opportunity to gather with family, friends and neighbors during such a “challenging time” in our country.

I hope to see you out there enjoying this great production!

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Joanne Oltmanns, director of Yukon’s volunteer-driven Mobile Meals program, reports that this service has never been used more since so many elderly and convalescing residents have been sheltering at home due to the pandemic.

Until the shutdown in mid-March, Mobile Meals averaged about 85 meal recipients each week. That number peaked at 114 and now steadily exceeds 100.

If you’ve never supported or volunteered for the Mobile Meals food delivery service, now is a great time. Mobile Meals will celebrate its 45th year in Yukon on July 28, and Joanne has served as its part-time director for 24 years. Read more next week in a feature story I’m writing for your Yukon Progress.