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WELL BEYOND SPARKLERS AND HOT DOGS

A Pinellas Park church will celebrate U.S. pride with a free "musical explosion."

The sweet sounds of patriotic music will soon fill the air at Park Place Wesleyan Church in Pinellas Park, where hundreds are expected to gather to pay homage to America.

An upbeat musical tribute honoring the brave men and women who serve or have served in our nation's armed forces will take place today, Monday and Wednesday in the church's main worship center.

"It's Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Veterans Day all woven into one musical explosion," said Paul Priore, director of music and productions at the church.

The 90-minute production is called "United!" and will feature vocal ensembles, visuals, lighting effects, confetti, indoor fireworks and cotton candy for the kids. Guests will be able sing along with the choir to familiar melodies like God Bless America, America the Beautiful and Bill Withers' Lean on Me.

Dan Brown, a juggler from Seminole, will provide preshow entertainment. During each show, representatives from the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marines will be brought on stage for a song tribute.

The Sgt. Michael D. Rowe Memorial, "A Tribute to the Fallen Soldiers," will be on display. Army Sgt. Rowe, 23, of New Port Richey died in combat in Iraqin 2006.

Tonight only, World War II veteran Mollie Tomassich, 94, of St. Petersburg will make an appearance. She was in charge of developing an occupational therapy program for soldiers who were injured or lost limbs in the war. She worked at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and at bases and hospitals across the country teaching the program. She will be honored for her contributions as well as represent other servicewomen who were never recognized.

The worship center where the performances will take place will be a tribute of its own, with flags, trees and color-reflective sheets. Three large projector screens will display video to go along with each song.

"The visuals that go along with the musical show speak volumes and may even spark questions that lead to educating children further concerning America," Priore said.

Priore, who has been producing and directing musicals at Park Place Wesleyan Church for 28 years, hopes visitors leave the show with a renewed sense of pride and patriotism.

"It's a must-see musical celebration of American patriotism that will bring you to your feet, guaranteed," he said. "And it's all free."

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IF YOU GO

'United!'

When: Today at 6 p.m., Monday at 7 p.m. and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. (Doors open 90 minutes before. Seating is on a first-come basis. Special seating is available for wheelchairs and those with impaired vision.)

Where: Park Place Wesleyan Church, 4400 70th Ave. N, Pinellas Park.

Admission: Free. A nursery is available.

Parking: Free; additional parking available four blocks east of the church.

Information: Call (727) 526-3674 or visit ppwc.org.

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