HOUSTON — For the first time ever, the city offered free water to everyone at Freedom Over Texas in downtown Houston.

Thousands there felt every sweaty second in the sand or shade of Eleanor Tinsley Park.

“We’re going to go home and jump in the pool,” Nikki Jones said.  “So we’re all good.”

Fans enjoyed free water offered at several stations around the park. 

Roberto Chitic brought his wife, Valentina, and their 7-year-old son, and 8-month-old daughter. He stood in the middle of the park holding a borrowed sun umbrella over his family until sunset. 

“I have to protect them,” he said. 

Chitic is from Guatemala. Valentina is from Mexico. Neither are citizens, but that is their dream.  

For that reason, Roberto is determined to see his children grow up respecting and celebrating American traditions and sacrifice, he said. There are few things Chitic respects more, he said.

“This city (Houston) adopted me (13 years ago) and I like to be here,” Chitic said.  “I love this country. I know I’m not born here but I’m feeling a part of this country.”

After 22 stage shows that ranged from hip-hop to country music and long lines winding through a 9,000 square-foot NASA display honoring the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, the main attraction erupted.  Fireworks wowed the crowd for 20 minutes.

Though, for Chitic, it was hardly the holiday’s only highlight.

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