The City of Hammond Celebrates Independence Day

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By DAVID FREESE AND WILLIAM B. CARROLL
Daily Star Staff Writers

Galloping lyrics of the “Star-Spangled Banner” sung by 15-year-old Heidi Carrier, of Loranger High School, rippled through the settling mist surrounding Hammond’s Zemurray Park Wednesday afternoon as firework cannons were set up nearby.

Young children like Jayson Kennedy, 3; his sister Ally, 8; Kaitlynn Powell, 5; Rylee Pritchard, 6; and her sister Avery, 7; solemnly held their hands over their hearts as their clothes dampened amid slight rainfall.

Conversations and opening ceremonies were rich with the top of freedom and liberty during the annual July 3 holiday celebrations, which traditionally have taken place in both Tangipahoa Parish cities the day before Independence Day.

Around 6 p.m. Hammond Mayor Mayson Foster huddled under a tent with more than a dozen others. Many local residents attending the celebration wore colors of the U.S. flag or T-shirts decaled with stars of Old Glory.

Foster reminisced on his childhood days growing up in downtown Hammond. He remembers attending firework shows at Zemurray Park as a child. The park’s rolling train, named the “Peggy Sue,” had yet to be installed and most fireworks were far from aerial, but they did illuminate the pond creating a nice reflection, he noted.

Foster said rainfall seems to be a Hammond tradition on July 3. He looked at a weather app on his iPhone Tuesday and saw bad weather projected.

Foster forwarded the memo to Rose Caprera, an employee of the city’s Purchasing Department and overseer of the firework show. Caprera told Foster celebrations would continue – rain or shine.

In Hammond, 71-year-old Bill Hatchett, of J&M Displays, scribbled numbers on a piece of paper in an attempt to tally the number of shells that would explode over Zemurray Park.

“I jokingly say I started blasting dynamite at 9 years old,” he said.

Hatchett said his father was involved with the collection of seismic data, which ultimately involved placing dynamite charges into shallow holes for the purpose of finding oil wells.

“I was around explosions at an early age,” he said.

A total of 700 shells – compacted with various chemicals – eventually combusted 250 feet in the air. B-Class three-inch shells were fired electronically. According to Hatchett, his company has fired 12-inch shells but couldn’t do so at Zemurray due to the distance between the material and audience.

City of Hammond and North Oaks Offer Free Men’s Health Event on June 25

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[HAMMOND, La.]—The City of Hammond and North Oaks Physician Group will host a “Man Up and Get Informed” Men’s Health Month event beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25 in the gym at the Michael J. Kenney Recreation Center, located at 601 Coleman Ave. in Hammond.

Free health screenings, refreshments and a physician panel presentation are planned. Mayor Mayson Foster, who has declared June as Men’s Health Month in the City of Hammond, will moderate the physician panel presentation. To register, go to www.northoaks.org/menshealth or call North Oaks Corporate Communications at (985) 230-6647.

Stroke risk assessments and blood pressure checks will be offered to participants starting at 5:30 p.m. until the physicians’ presentation begins at 6 p.m. Panelists will include Urologists Stephen M. Graham, MD, and Brad M. Lake, MD, who will address issues unique to men, like prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. Orthopaedist Brian J. Ladner, MD, will speak to trauma care, joint pain and other joint, bone and muscle-related injuries and medical conditions. Cardiologist James M. Parker will discuss heart disease diagnosis and treatment. Time is planned for the panel to answer participants’ questions, which can be submitted anonymously.

“The health and well-being of our citizens is of utmost importance to our Administration and the City Council,” affirms Mayor Mayson Foster. “We are excited to be partnering with North Oaks in encouraging our male population to improve their health knowledge.”

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) studies show that men are 80 percent less likely than women to get routine medical check ups,” shares North Oaks Communications Director Melanie Lanaux Zaffuto. “Through our partnership with the City of Hammond, we hope to change this by raising awareness among the men of our community about recommended health screenings for every age and the key role they play in the early detection and treatment of many medical conditions.”

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Drs. Stephen Graham, Brian Ladner, Brad Lake and James Parker will serve on the physician panel for the Men’s Health Month eventon June 25. The evening of free health screenings, presentations and refreshments will be jointly sponsored by the City of Hammond and North Oaks Physician Group.

North Oaks Health System is one of Louisiana’s largest and most progressive community hospital organizations and is strategically based between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. For more than 50 years, we have made it our mission to optimize the health care experience through compassion and innovation. Facilities in Tangipahoa and Livingston Parishes include an acute care hospital, a rehabilitation hospital, two outpatient diagnostic & treatment centers, an outpatient surgery center, two outpatient rehabilitation clinics, a hospice agency and a growing physician group for primary and specialty care. Visit us at www.northoaks.org.