JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

On Thursday, 170 singers took to the stage at the Avenues Mall to audition in WJXT's search for the best person to perform the national anthem on live television before this year's 4th of July fireworks.

Each contestant was hoping to impress the judges enough to get a call back to the finals.  The three finalists will perform on Channel 4's Fireworks Spectacular broadcast, then the audience will pick who will sing the national anthem -- and win $500 courtesy of Claude Nolan.

Oh Say Can You Sing hopeful During six hours of auditions, contestants aged 8 to over 50 had one minute to sing a song of their choice. They could either sing a capella or with music on a CD that they provide.

Or, like 18-year-old Joseph Williams, accompany themselves on guitar.

"I think I did pretty well, actually," Williams said. "I've been playing these kinds of songs for a while."

IMAGES: 'Oh Say Can You Sing' open auditions
READ:  Complete details, rules of the contest

After the auditions, Channel 4 producers will select a group of singers who will advance to a call-back audition to be held next Saturday.

Those first in line to perform Thursday said they not only love to sing, but they were especially excited to sing a patriotic song.

"It's important to love your country," 12-year-old contestant Allie Rohrer said. "Singing the national anthem... it's really cool to be representing your country like that."

Eboni McMiller said she could really use the money, but more importantly she wants the chance to show her love for her country while doing something she loves.

"I'll be thrilled," McMiller said. "I've been singing the National Anthem probably since I was 4, so I would be really excited to get that opportunity to display my talents and represent America."

OSCYS panorama