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Archive for Monday, July 6, 1992

FIREWORKS, A DAY LATE, STILL WOW THE CROWD

July 6, 1992

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They had flowery names like chrysanthemum bursts, color-changing peonies and silver comets.

But nothing spoke more for the pyrotechnics at the Lawrence Jaycees' Fourth of July fireworks show postponed one day because of thunderstorms on the actual holiday than the resounding applause and cheers from the people who gathered at Burcham Park to watch them.

"It was fabulous, absolutely fabulous, especially the grand finale," Lawrence resident Bill Renfro said after Sunday's show. "It's probably the best grand finale I've ever seen."

Although the Jaycees have put on an annual fireworks show for many years, Renfro just moved to Lawrence in February, so Sunday's show was the first Lawrence fireworks display he'd seen.

The show began at about 9:25 p.m. and ended at about 10 p.m. The first fireworks were set off manually by a specially trained "pit crew" across the Kansas River from Burcham Park. The fireworks in the 90-second grand finale were set off electronically.

ABOUT 1,500-2,000 people gathered at Burcham Park, where many children crawled on playground equipment, blew soap bubbles or played catch as they waited for dusk to approach. Other people relaxed on lawn chairs and blankets and listened to the live music of "Prairie Fire" before the show began.

Matt Garrett, 15, said he didn't mind that the show was postponed a day because of a storm that rolled into Lawrence Saturday afternoon and brought rains throughout Saturday evening.

Garrett said waiting to see the show on Sunday was "a lot better than having to come out in the rain."

Randy Breeden said his daughters, Cara, 5, and Erin, 9, also didn't mind Saturday's wet weather.

"It gave us a chance (Saturday) night to shoot off our fireworks, and we didn't have to worry about the trees burning down," Breeden said.

Seven-year-old Bethie Thompson was in Lawrence from Pensacola, Fla., to visit her grandmother, Martha Hopkins. Bethie enjoyed not only the after-dark show but a couple of lone fireworks that were shot off across the river earlier in the evening.

"Whooaa! Whooo! That was a green and red one!" Bethie exclaimed to her grandmother, whose view was partially blocked by a tree.

AT BURCHAM Park, people above the age of 12 were asked to pay $3.50 to help defray the costs of the fireworks show. Meanwhile, several hundred people gathered on the opposite side of the river and watched the fireworks for free, unless they made a donation when the Jaycees' "bucket brigade" passed by.

Jaycees President Mark Lehmann said he thought the crowd at Burcham Park was "light." However, he said he was pleased that most people who gathered by the river had chosen to go to Burcham Park and thus help with the Jaycees' expenses.

Lehmann said the Jaycees fell about $5,000 short of raising enough money to cover the cost of the $9,000 fireworks show. He said donations can be sent to the Lawrence Jaycees, P.O. Box 22, Lawrence 66044.

Bank IV was a major sponsor of the fireworks show.

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