With state COVID restrictions lifted and a sense of normalcy returning, Independence Day fireworks will return over Wauseon skies Friday, July 2 in all their Technicolor glory.
Dorothy B. Biddle Park on Glenwood Avenue will again bustle with vehicles jostling for that perfect spot to watch the pyrotechnics show sponsored by the Wauseon Fire Department. Chief Rick Sluder said people are anxious to get their fireworks fix after the coronavirus pandemic unceremoniously shut down last year’s event.
“The people enjoy Independence Day because of the background of what it means – the country, the freedom, the independence, the military affiliation that it has,” he said. “People enjoy a celebration of what we’re supposed to be doing, not locked down by mask and political strife.”
A variety of food will be available from Deet’s BBQ, Bloomin’ Tasty Taters, A & B Mobile Food Service, Snowie Summers, Susie Lynne’s Lemonade, Sunshine Dogs Rolling Menu, S & T Munchi Connection, K & K Concession, and Pop Ice Cream & Apple Dumplings.
The 20-minute presentation of skyward zooms and booms will again be presented by Texas-based Magic in the Sky, but the approximately $25,000 cost this year is covered by last year’s contract with the company, left unfulfilled due to COVID-19. The annual fireworks show is routinely included in the city’s annual budget.
The fireworks and a synchronized music soundtrack provided by a local DJ are computer-controlled, with some firework placement readied by eight members of the city’s fire department acting as exhibitor assistants, including Sluder. Each will require certification and a background check to participate.
Sluder said there have been technical glitches in past years but no past catastrophes due to faulty fireworks. He said each year about 5% malfunction by simply not firing, and are immediately contained to prevent any problems.
Wauseon Police Chief Kevin Chittenden said directing traffic out of Biddle Park following the fireworks show will be the same as years past. Cars will be sent north and south on Glenwood Avenue and eastbound on Airport Highway and Linfoot Street.
“We’ve run that traffic pattern for probably five years now, and that one seems to be the most effective getting everyone out of the park as quickly and smoothly as possible,” he said.
Chittenden cautioned, however, not to be in a rush to leave after the fireworks finale. He said the process of safely directing vehicles out of the park and onto the streets takes about an hour.
“Since we didn’t have any (fireworks) last year, I’m expecting there should be a pretty good crowd,” he said. Therefore, any drivers hoping a lead foot will get them away from the site faster need to exercise patience, Chittenden said.
The park is usually filled to capacity about 20 minutes before showtime, at which time police shut down the entrance. Chittenden said cars were turned away due to a full lot the last two years the show was held, so an early arrival is advised.
He said the crowd generally behaves well and no major problems arise. “Everybody’s mostly there for a good time,” Chittenden said.
A rain date for the fireworks would be July 3.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.