This was not the best year for fireworks

Ed Howell
Posted 7/6/17

Well, I didn’t have much luck with Fourth of July fireworks this year.

I took some Walker Magazine shots of people attending the Jasper event on July 3, put on by the city and Desperation Church of Jasper. I found the late afternoon/early …

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This was not the best year for fireworks


Well, I didn’t have much luck with Fourth of July fireworks this year.

I took some Walker Magazine shots of people attending the Jasper event on July 3, put on by the city and Desperation Church of Jasper. I found the late afternoon/early evening pre-fireworks event rather nice and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves at Memorial Park, what with kids playing and people visiting each other or eating from vendors. It turned into a nice social event for me, since I would have otherwise have been sitting in the apartment. I wound up eating a sandwich with Jake Aaron, who is going to do a fantastic job as our new executive ad director, as well as his family. I also finally got to meet the pastor of Desperation Church, Adam Hicks. In time, the hot air turned cooler and I decided to put up my camera in the car and enjoy myself for the night.

On the way to the car, I returned a call to Dad, who had just returned from a trip, and then made a pit stop at the Natatorium. However, once I did all that, storm clouds gathered, which made me pause for a while in the Nat’s parking lot. Then about 8 p.m., I saw lightning. I am Mama’s boy all right — and Mom hated lightning. Actually, I’ve covered some stories where lightning killed people and cattle, and I know it’s power all too well. So I jumped in the car and headed home reluctantly, but I got back to the apartment before the bottom fell out.

I was texting to someone about it about 9 p.m. when they said that the show was just starting. The rain had stopped, and I live behind the Jasper Mall anyway, so I raced down in the car. I could see the fireworks while driving in front of the mall, which is someone elevated there. No one much was parked there, and I thought if you didn’t mind some distance, it really was nice to see from there without being claustrophobic from people.

But as I got down to Parkland, the fireworks suddenly stopped. Was it over already? I wondered if maybe it was a shorter show than I understood, or if all the rain put a literal damper on the fireworks. I saw a sea of cars in the Parkland-Victoria’s-Big Lot’s area, particularly at Big Lot’s. I thought for those who had waited through the rain, this wasn’t good. It turned out Pyro Shows of Alabama’s firing equipment malfunctioned, and officials are investigating to see if the rain caused it. (It is worth noting one of our staff reporters, Lea Rizzo, went to Desperation Church’s Cullman show the next night, and that show went off fine, lasting 20 to 25 minutes.)

But even with that disappointment, I was real pleased how the rest of the evening went, and Memorial Park seems like a great place to hold events like that. It gets extra benefit that when the kids are bored, you can take them next door to play on the APEX playground and the splash pad. And Desperation Church has to be commended and given their due for their work, as this is one more event where they are quickly setting the church standard in community service and friendliness. There is a reason they are growing, and that is because they are reaching out and touching people at levels that haven’t been seen from the church community in a while. I don’t know of another church in the area that is touching the energy, passion, service and drive that Desperation is demonstrating, which is terribly attractive. If we’re going to attract people to Christ, all the denominations should be taking note, shaking off some of the cobwebs and stepping up their game.

Anyway, I got off message...

After Monday night, I thought for sure that I would go to Birmingham’s fireworks show. At the last minute, I just didn’t feel like fighting the traffic and crowds and coming back late, so I bailed out again. (I really should stop making excuses to myself for stuff like that; I seem to fall into that trap the more older I get. On the other hand, I admit that night I did continue my five-month effort to prune out my new overstuffed apartment.) 

As far as Birmingham, it might as been just as well. I heard there had been a storm beforehand in Birmingham and then the finale was delayed there for several minutes.

For some reason, I keep forgetting about Duncan Bridge’s show, because they are so low key with publicizing it. If you have heard the news reports, it is probably just as well I didn’t go there, either.

I probably should have made myself content with Cullman, Carbon Hill, Guin or Tuscaloosa. I heard on Facebook that the show in Carbon Hill went well. A lot of the credit would go to Mayor Mark Chambers, who really pushed to get funds raised for the event. For that matter, Jake just told me he went to a fireworks show in Sipsey, which he said was far better than Birmingham’s, going maybe 45 minutes.

At any rate, we are all at the mercy of weather, and I’m just glad we are no longer in a drought. We’re all a little fed up with the rain, at this point, but I will gladly trade fireworks for moisture. In short, this wasn’t really the best year overall for fireworks, but I guess it will make me long more to see them the next time I have a chance. I am eager to see what Jasper’s event will be like next year.

Ed Howell is the Daily Mountain Eagle’s news editor.