HOUSTON -- The skies threatened over Freedom Over Texas Friday evening, with rumbles of thunder and lightning slowing the festivities down. Bands covered their equipment and took a break for about a half hour, starting around 6 p.m., while police encouraged folks to take shelter, though not evacuate.

The fireworks show started at 10:05 p.m. instead of 9:35 p.m., as previously announced.

It s intermission, said Sam Wilson, who sat it out with his family under a bridge.

Another festival-goer added, We re not going to leave. I m going to put my umbrella down like this and we re going to get wet!

But even through the rumbles, most umbrellas stayed closed and it didn t take long to get the party going again.

Independence Day baby! Freedom, Rosalynd Wilson called out.

The food, the 11 bands, and fun for the kids all screamed 4th of July.

Fireworks is my favorite. At home we ve got some big fireworks, said 8-year-old Ava Khajeh. Oh yeah, what about the ones down here, you think they ll be bigger? KHOU11 News Reporter Alice Barr asked. Ava answered, I think so, I ve been here before, it s pretty cool!

Barr even tried her hand at a dunk tank. She didn t quite get there, but a better arm took care of the next guy.

After taking a dunk, he told KHOU11, It s the perfect thing to do for the 4th. Let s get dunked for the 4th, for America!

But one corner was set aside to remind people of the deeper meaning of Independence Day. Folks signed message boards thanking the troops and sharing what freedom means to them.

Being able to walk like this, talk like this, that s what freedom is, said Rama Tenneti, after signing one of the boards.

It was the perfect welcome home for Black Hawk helicopter pilot Chloe Flores, who returned from Afghanistan just four days ago.

Flores said, It just means a lot that people back home are thinking about you because you re in the middle of this foreign country, you miss your family, you miss America, you don t have all the amenities that you have in America, so that people take time to do stuff like this is really awesome.

So at the end of the night, the words written on those boards, spoke louder than any party.

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