Show goes on…despite old plan
Hundreds of people filled the Baldwin High School parking lot and Baldwin City ball fields to watch the annual fireworks display Tuesday night.
The Fourth of July celebration was canceled last week, until it was revived Thursday afternoon. Then the residents of Baldwin City came forth to make the event possible.
"The community and Baldwin City Recreation got involved," said Donna Kneedler, Citizens For Baldwin City president. "I think the parking lot is fuller than it has ever been before. I think we've had more people this year than ever before. Maybe it took the scare of not having it to actually get more people involved."
Baldwin City resident Knute Pittenger was sad when he heard the news of the show being canceled, but he was proud of the community for pulling the event off.
"When we saw the paper and saw that they weren't going to do it, we were really disappointed," Pittenger said. "One thing about this community is that people step up to bat when we have to. You can tell by looking at everybody out here."
As the evening rolled on Tuesday, the BHS parking lot began to fill with vehicles and people. Once the show began, the parking lot was packed, along with Eisenhower Street.
"I thought the crowd was great for such a short notice," Pittenger said. "I had no doubt in my mind that the community was going to come out in full force."
The fireworks display lasted for more than 30 minutes, as colors filled the July sky north of BHS. John and Lena Scruggs of Baldwin watched the show and enjoyed it.
"In the many years we have attended, I think it was the best show," L. Scruggs said. "I am really impressed with how they (CFBC) have pulled it together within the four days. That just shows how close the people are in the community and how much involvement there is."
Pittenger and his wife, Diane Pittenger, attend the fireworks display every year and each year it gets better for them.
"Diane and I come out here every year and I say the show gets better each year," K. Pittenger said. "That is what makes it such a great event. We enjoy it each year."
Kneedler loved the fireworks display.
"I thought it was awesome and couldn't have been a better show," Kneedler said. "We got more money this year than we have in the past, so it was a bigger show that it has been."
A disc jockey played patriotic songs during the fireworks, making the night even more special for some people.
"It was awesome, especially the music," said Monte Ezell, Baldwin City Recreation Commission director, of the event. "I think that was the first time they have had the DJ like that. I got to looking around and realizing this what we are all about and it was really cool."
Before the show started, many families came out to enjoy the other festivities. Those included several inflatable activities for children and lighting fireworks of their own.
"It's been a couple years since we have been up, but having a concession stand open was really nice," J. Scruggs said. "The music selections and games for the kids were also really nice. It was a really nice community event."
Kneedler said the variety of events helps attract more people.
"That was more than we have ever had before," Kneedler said of the games. "I am overwhelmed with how the community has jumped in. They were going to have this."
One reason that many people attend the show is to socialize with friends that they might not see until August or September.
"It's a way that everybody can see the community," K. Pittenger said. "It's summertime now, so people don't get a chance to see everybody. It's nice to see people that we normally won't see until school time."
Another big event during the Fourth of July was at the Baldwin City Municipal Pool. It was open from noon to 4 p.m. with free admission, games and free hot dogs.
Ezell said the pool was busier than last year, but not comparable to 2004, because of very hot weather that year.
"We were a little busy down there," Ezell said. "We cooked about 700 hot dogs and had over 400 people there. It was a great day all the way around."
He also said that BCRC is more than happy to be a part of the July Fourth celebration with CFBC.
"The recreation commission (BCRC) is just awesomely proud to be a part of it," Ezell said. "We are going to keep with it. I think we can count on doing this with the CFBC for a long time."
Kneedler said CFBC will once again plan to do the event next year, but she hopes to see more participation from community organizations.
"Next year I would really like to see more groups from the community come out and be involved," Kneedler said. "They could sell lemonade or ice cream. I would like to see more community groups come out. That would thrill me to death."
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