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Mother Nature provides 4th of July light show at Palo Duro Canyon State Park outdoor musical

Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report
The ominous thunderstorm approaches Palo Duro Canyon State Park during Texas Outdoor Musical on July 4th.
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CANYON, Texas -- After have spent our two last Independence Day watching the fireworks at home in Norman, we felt that a little change was welcome.

And on our return from our trip to Colorado and New Mexico (that I will write about in upcoming articles) we decided to stop here at Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Canyon, which is the nation’s second-largest canyon, situated just 30 minutes south of Amarillo, Texas.

Overview of the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. (Olivier Rey/Red Dirt Report)

And while the canyon itself is grandiose, colorful and scenic, reminding me of numerous scenes from countless Westerns, we opted to watch the famous Texas Outdoor Musical, now in its 52nd season, and touted as the “most spectacular outdoor musical drama in the world.”

And as it turned out, we were not disappointed!

The show is organized by the Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation and proposes to recount the history of the first white settlers of the Texas Panhandle in the 1800s, a region situated on the northern square Texas, through dances and songs in a pleasant, festive atmosphere.

But first, as always dinner comes first, we chose to experience the Chuckwagon barbecue for $16 each.

And there was meat. Lots of meat. This is Texas after all. Sausages, with beans, veggies and potatoes salads plus an apricot pie for dessert.

Chuckwagon barbecue meal on 4 th of July. (Olivier Rey/Red Dirt Report)

After this delectable meal, we had the pleasure to take a picture with two celebrities Marla Launi, a singer from Cache, Okla. and one of the Native American actors of the show.

Olivier Rey and his wife (on the left side) taking pictures with two Native American celebrities. (Olivier Rey / Red Dirt Report)

With the show kicking off at 8:30 p.m., it was full of pure moments of pleasure, funny dialogue and scenarios and, each one of the 60 actors in the performance delivered perfect performances.

One problem for me, however, was that the Texan accent is difficult to understand at times!

Already half way before the end of the show and the fireworks. We can see far in the background thunderstorms coming in from the west. This was not a part of the show we were expecting.

Funnily enough, however, there was an amusing moment in one scene of the musical where an actor mimes to play their act under the rain when at the same time we could hear and see the lightning in the background. Enormous laughter filled in The Pioneer Amphitheater.

But with gusts of wind increasing and the thunderstorm moving in, half of the crowd already left.  Suddenly, a gust of wind moved the stage décor in the direction of the actors. Needless to say, there was panic on the stage and sheer surprise in the crowd.

The rain, thunder and lightning had arrived. And attendees – including ourselves – seek refuge under a shelter.

We waited during almost a full hour before the rain let off. Soon, the actors joined us and started to sing at the same time the fireworks lighted up while still viewing the amazing flashes of lightning in the background, as it moved eastward.

One of the attendees told Red Dirt Report that they have been coming to the Texas Outdoor Musical for years and they said it had been a long time since there had been a Fourth of July like this at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

We could not disagree. And as I reflect on it, yes, I think it is the most amazing and crazy night I have had in many years and a night that I will not soon forget.

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About the Author

Olivier Rey

Olivier has traveled in 20 countries on six continents before landing in Norman. Native French...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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