Fireworks at Kenan. (Photo by Susan Murray.)
CHAPEL HILL – Thousands of local residents turned out at Kenan Stadium Thursday night for another memorable July 4 fireworks display.
Ron Stutts emceed the event, put on by the Town of Chapel Hill in conjunction with numerous local businesses and organizations. Among the attendees were Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt, new UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, and Chapel Hill Town Council member Sally Greene.
“It’s a great time to take some time out to enjoy some fellowship and fireworks,” Greene said. “I’ve got my son and my husband here with me, and we’re really enjoying it.”
After a week marred by torrential downpours, the rain held off all night — save for a brief sprinkle right before the fireworks got under way.
But the rain could not stop the show on Thursday; in fact, WCHL News Director Ran Northam said it only got the crowd that much more excited.
“(There was) a little tiny bit of a sprinkle just before the fireworks went off — that was greeted by many, many cheers,” he said shortly after the show began. “People (are) loving it now.”
The fireworks got underway right on schedule at 9:30, following an evening of entertainment featuring music from Liquid Pleasure and a watermelon-eating contest sponsored by DSI Comedy.
The show itself was not without incident: “One fire official did have to go down and put out a little bit of a fire there at the end,” Northam said. “There were a couple small fires there.”
And attendees were also surprised by another round of fireworks that started up after the 25-minute show appeared to reach its end. That second round lasted several more minutes, even as the lights in Kenan had already come back on.
Still, the show as a whole was an unqualified success — especially for new Chancellor Folt, who’s still getting oriented to Chapel Hill in her first week on the job.
“It’s been great,” she said of her first days in Chapel Hill. “I’ve just been meeting so many people, and everyone’s friendly — I keep hearing what a friendly place (Chapel Hill) is, and it’s absolutely true.”
More than the fireworks and the camaraderie, though, July 4 is a day to celebrate America — and in particular the Declaration of Independence, a document that not only established the U.S. as a distinct nation, but also expressed the fundamental values on which it would seek to build itself.
And Sally Greene says this year is especially noteworthy in that regard.
“This is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg,” she says. “Abraham Lincoln gave an address for the ages when he gave the Gettysburg Address — and what he was doing there was cementing the Declaration as the founding document which the Constitution must interpret…
“He really was reinforcing the Declaration of Independence as the founding document that would bring forth all of our rights and ensure us those liberties to this day. So it’s a time to remember that — a time to remember what’s fundamental about our democracy, and a time to stand up and fight for it.”
The Kenan Stadium fireworks show is a longstanding annual event—but 2013 marks its second year back, after budget cuts forced the town to cancel it in 2011.