Thousands pack into Coca Cola Field for Bisons, BPO and fireworks

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Baseball, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and bombs bursting in air highlighted a spectacular show at Coca Cola Field Monday night.

Thousands of fans took in a game, a concert and a fireworks show ahead of Independence Day. The Buffalo Bisons and the BPO teamed up for their annual celebration. It was sponsored by Key Bank.

The stands here were packed with people wearing red white and blue, as fans soaked in the sacrifices made for our freedom and their shared American pride.

“We’ve just got to remember our freedom isn’t free,” said Tom O’Connell, a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Vietnam. “It cost a lot of servicemen their lives so it’s a good time to remember our veterans. Always recognize our veterans and say thank you.”

As the BPO played patriotic favorites, the flag was walked out on field accompanied by six veterans who were wounded in action. Five served in Vietnam, one served in Iraq.

The song for each branch of service was played, and each of those men were recognized and given a thundering applause.

Past and current members of the military in the stands were also asked to rise for recognition.

Jim Schaller with the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart expressed how much this recognition mean, especially since he and many of the other Vietnam veterans didn’t receive thanks when they returned home from their service.

“There will be tears tonight, there really will, because it’s very emotional to be recognized for what we did for our country,” he said. “We all bled all of us bled for our country, we left our blood over in Vietnam.”

Event-goers told News 4 this ceremony is one of the reasons they attend it every year.
“I think that’s the best part about it,” said Dan Romano, from Buffalo. “I love our veterans I have so much respect and I can’t really put into words how thankful I am for the people who have fought and died.”

Mary Behnke from North Tonawanda said, “I think it’s great. They should be honored more, they sacrificed an awful lot for us, the older veterans and the young ones today.”

This is the 23rd year the BPO and Bisons have celebrated the event and more than 400,000 fans have attended since it started.

 

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