SHENANDOAH JUNCTION – Fourth of July revelers hoping to see fireworks close to home will be out of luck next week. The county’s only such display is happening not on the holiday, but this weekend.
Organizers of Saturday’s show at Sam Michaels Park discussed scheduling the fireworks show on July 4, but opted for Saturday instead, said Jimmy Pierson, the park manager for the City of Ranson.
“The idea is for as many people as possible to see the fireworks,” said Pierson, who serves on a fireworks committee that also includes Jefferson County Parks and Recreation officials and others.
A July 4th show might sound ideally timed, but it means a late night, Pierson said. The committee took into consideration those who must get up at their regular time to go to work the next day, he said.
“By the time the fireworks are over and everyone gets out of the parking lot, it might be 11 or even midnight,” he said.
Another advantage to holding the show on Saturday, Pierson points out, is that it allows for a rain date. “If we have bad weather and have to cancel on Saturday, we can do fireworks on Sunday instead,” he said. (Right now, weather forecasters predict only a 20 percent chance of rain on Saturday.)
Saturday’s show could draw crowds of more than 10,000 people, Pierson said.
In years past, fireworks fans could see shows at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and in Shepherdstown but there are no such displays scheduled at either place this summer.
Fireworks on the 4th is the tradition nearby at War Memorial Park in Martinsburg, but just outside the state borders, no major fireworks shows are scheduled for the actual holiday.
In Winchester, Va., fireworks are slated to start at 9:20 p.m. on July 3. The Maryland Symphony Orchestra’s annual “Salute to Independence” concert at Antietam National Battlefield is happening July 7. The evening, which begins with music at 7:30 and fireworks at around 9:45 p.m., typically attracts crowds of 30,000 or more.
Shepherdstown will host Independence Day festivities next Wednesday, though the event will not feature a fireworks display.
Peter Smith, who distributes news for Shepherdstown Rotary, said the group’s Fourth of July parade and picnic, which goes back to 2007, never has included fireworks.
The cost involved in putting on firework shows – purchasing the pyrotechnics themselves, plus providing insurance coverage as well as paying EMS workers and law officials to keep crowds safe – keeps more communities from offering them, Smith said.
The price tag for Saturday’s show at Sam Michaels will be around $27,000, Pierson said. That figure doesn’t include hours put in by area law enforcement and volunteers to direct traffic and handle other tasks.
Contributions from area municipalities as well as local businesses make the show possible, he said. During Saturday’s show, Pierson said he hopes members of the public chip in what they can to provide a foundation for the 2013 fireworks display.
“Each year, it gets tougher and tougher to get the money raised,” Pierson said. “A lot of people don’t realize that it takes the entire year to raise the amount we need. We don’t charge people to come or to park – it’s all possible because of donated support.”
Business help out with various needs, Pierson said. Jefferson Asphalt, for instance, will provide tower lights to help visitors to get out of the park in the post-show darkness. Tim Walls of Walls Vault Service in Kearneysville will stage a pig roast dinner for about 200 volunteers. Jefferson Rentals and Apple Valley Waste are providing supplies for free.
“We’re grateful for all the help we get from our local business community – and it means a lot when people put in $1 or $5 to cover parking or give whatever amount they’re able to,” Pierson said. “Absolutely every bit helps.”
For those looking for special events on July 4, the Shepherdstown Rotary’s celebration is more elaborate than in past years because of the ongoing 250th anniversary of the town.
In addition to the traditional 3 p.m. parade down German Street and then a free community picnic at Rumsey Memorial Park on Mill Street, there’s also a ceremony at noon to dedicate a new historical marker on King Street by the Town Hall.
Musicians with the 249th Army National Guard Band will give a concert in front of McMurran Hall following the ceremony unveiling the marker, a donation from Shepherdstown artist Diana Suttenfield honoring the famous 1775 “Beeline March” in which a company of Shepherdstown riflemen took just 24 days to travel 600 miles to Massachusetts following the battles of Lexington and Concord.
Shepherdstown Mayor Jim Auxer will take part in the ceremony along with other elected leaders, representatives of local historical organizations, West Virginia Adjutant General James A. Hoyer and representatives from several Army National Guard units.
Smith said the community picnic, to begin as soon as the parade ends, will last until 7:30 p.m. Also sponsored by the Rotary Club, Smith said the picnic will offer wholesome family fun with live music and a variety of games and activities for children. He said burgers and other food and soft drinks will be available for purchase.