There will be an unusual kind of fireworks in the small town of Sylva, N.C. this July Fourth, thanks to one Susan Shannon. Shannon will host one of the country’s most unique holiday celebrations – a monster truck race – after winning the Built Ford Tough “Monsters On Mainstreet” promotion presented by Ford Trucks and Monster Jam.

At Monster Jam’s World Finals this past March, Shannon randomly chose a key (among five finalists who won trips to the event) which started the 2006 Blue Thunder-themed F-Series Super Duty and made her an instant celebrity with her sons Riley and Dylan, and a good number of folks back in Sylva.

"Winning the Monsters on Mainstreet event has been unreal," said Shannon. "When I got the phone call, I first thought it was a telemarketer, but I was wrong. I don’t think that it really sunk in until I was out on the field in front of 40,000 people.”

The event will be held on Saturday, July 1 at the Western Carolina University’s Ramsey Center that seats 5,000 people and is located in Cullowhee, N.C., just up the road from Sylva. Shannon personally distributed the first 1,000 free tickets to family members, friends and local groups, including charities, Little League baseball teams, volunteer firefighters and children’s homes. Those 1,000 tickets will cover nearly half the town of Sylva, which has a population of 2,509.

“We thought about what to do with all of those tickets to give away. I know that lots of family want to come and probably my son’s classmates and little league team have dibs, but we also invited a nearby children’s home. Those kids would probably love to come.”

The proven legacy of Built Ford Tough capability and reliability has made F-Series the best selling truck in America for 29 years running. That record of truck sales leadership is built on a deep understanding of and connection with customers that is translated into marketing campaigns that go well beyond just hanging banners at events.

“Ford Trucks are ingrained in the American culture – from work trucks to Monster trucks – based on the unwavering commitment of Built Ford Tough,” says Todd Eckert, Ford Truck Marketing Manager. “We have built that heritage by going to where our customers live, work and play in order to deeply understand their needs.

“The ‘Monsters on Mainstreet’ event is a perfect example of how we go beyond the typical promotion to create a truly unique experience that only Ford Trucks and Monster Jam can deliver."

Town manager Jay Denton says that this is probably the biggest thing to hit town.

“The closest these monster trucks have been is in Asheville (N.C. about 50 miles away),” says Denton. “This event is probably larger than anything that has been held in Asheville.”

Monster Jam officials and Denton are working together to help choreograph the fleet of semis hauling monster trucks and other support equipment as they descend on the city’s only main intersection. He also will work closely with Monster Jam’s Doctor of Dirt, Lenny Fuller, to help coordinate the more than 200 dump-truck loads of dirt required to set up the challenging monster truck courses.

“Any event like this will basically bring in people and give recognition to Sylva and the surrounding county” says Denton. “It will invite in new folks that have never had the opportunity to visit Sylva before.”

Shannon and her sons will be rooting for “Blue Thunder,” a Ford F-350 Super Duty monster truck that will compete against the likes of the Batman, Hot Wheels, Monster Mutt, Pastrana 199, Safe Auto and Superman monster trucks.

The Blue Thunder F-350, driven by Tony Farrell of North Vernon, Ind., sits on 66-inch Terra Tires and is capable of nearly 1,500 horsepower.

Sylva will be not just be another stop on the Monster Jam series tour. Ford Trucks and Monster Jam are providing Susan, her family and her community friends an experience of a lifetime that they will never forget.

Susan, along with the other four finalists, Benjamin Seville, Concord, California; Larry Burdick, Pittsburg, Kansas; Larry Goemaat, Knoxville, Iowa; and Shannon Selleck, Peru, Indiana, each won a trip for three to the Monster Jam World Finals, monster truck event at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas this past March.

Now, Susan is bringing all the thrills of Monster Jam competition to her home town this Fourth of July weekend. It is safe to say that the community of Sylva and the surrounding area will never be the same.

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