Archive for Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lawrence booms with festivities

People sit in Constant Park downtown to watch the 2009 annual fireworks display put on by the Lawrence Jaycees.

People sit in Constant Park downtown to watch the 2009 annual fireworks display put on by the Lawrence Jaycees.

July 5, 2009


Lawrence residents gather downtown for festivites

Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Lawrence Saturday to participate in local Fourth of July festivities. Enlarge video

Many in the crowd at Watson Park on Saturday night were happy to see the Fourth of July celebration move back to Lawrence’s downtown. However, some of those who had camped out on the grassy field were dismayed that trees got in the way of the fireworks display.

“If the (fireworks) were up higher it would have been better ... or if they lowered the trees,” Tony Sailors joked. “Other than that it was a great evening.”

While the high flying fireworks were in clear sight of the thousands who huddled on blankets and lawn chairs in Watson Park, the ground fireworks were lost behind a grove of trees in the park’s north end.

“I think they look pretty cool, I just wish I wasn’t behind a tree,” 13-year-old Sam Dowell said.

In 2008, the fireworks display was at Sesquicentennial Point at Clinton Lake and in prior years at Burcham Park along the Kansas River.

This was the first year the Lawrence Jaycees aimed fireworks for those sitting in Watson Park, where a large crowd had gathered for the Lawrence Originals Independence Day celebration. The event featured live music and food and drink from 18 locally owned restaurants.

With around 4,000 people in Watson Park by 8 p.m., organizer Constance Wolfe said the Lawrence Originals event was exceeding expectations.

The smell of barbecue filled the air as the sound of bluegrass music drifted through the crowd. Families spread out on blankets and a group of young men played Frisbee in the center of the park.

“I don’t think people quite knew what to expect, so they are pleased with what they see,” Wolfe said.

Dressed in a blue pants, a red shirt and a red, white and blue necklace, 82-year-old Marion Willay was enjoying a chicken wrap sandwich from Zig & Mac’s.

“I like it back down by the river. It’s prettier down here,” Willay said.

Eight-year-old Liam Hoey-Kummerow and his family spent the day downtown, going to the Tour of Lawrence bike races, the pool and then the festival at Watson Park.

“I love it,” Liam said.

Don Phipps, who lives near Vinland and was wearing an American flag T-shirt with a peace sign, ranked it as one of the best Fourth of July celebrations he has attended.

“You can’t beat the food. It’s all local. And you can’t beat the music. It’s all local,” Phipps said.

And despite the cluster of trees that blocked the view of the fireworks, Bryan Hendrix said he would definitely come back next year. He would just find another spot for the big fireworks finale.


BigPrune 8 years, 11 months ago

It looked like a great turnout. Parking was a nightmare but it was downtown so that's somewhat understandable. There are some scary parts in north Lawrence. My only suggestions: Next year, start the fireworks earlier in the evening, and please bring in the B-1 Bomber for a flyover like they did years ago. That was so cool. The Clinton Lake display last year wasn't that bad. It let the majority of Lawrencians actually see the fireworks unobstructed.

Lee Eldridge 8 years, 11 months ago

We got down there around 6:30. Parked about a block and a half away. And had a very nice evening. Music was good. Food was good. Trees did obscure part of the view so many people moved out towards the street to watch. I'd say it was a very successful event.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 11 months ago

"please bring in the B-1 Bomber for a flyover like they did years ago."

I suspect most of us would gladly do without the rambo-esqe displays of empire.

jumpin_catfish 8 years, 11 months ago

Liberal elitist seems to hate the good folks who protect us. But i ain't mentionin' any names.

KansasPerson 8 years, 11 months ago

We enjoyed the bike races earlier in the day, the restaurant festival in the park, and the fireworks. It is a shame about the view. When I read in earlier articles that the organizers were recommending either Watson Park or Constant Park for fireworks-viewing, my first thought was that the trees would obstruct the view. We were in Watson Park, and as soon as the show got started, we saw people migrating by the dozens over to the other park. It's a shame that the organizers didn't really know if Watson would be a good spot or not, but recommended it anyway. I don't know if it's possible for them to shoot them higher next year. We really did enjoy the Watson Park venue for the evening. Burcham may have been better for fireworks, but Watson was better in every other way. More people could walk to it, it was close to downtown and the bike race, and the restaurant booths were fabulous. All we ever saw food-wise in Burcham in years past was stuff like funnel cake -- bleah.

KansasPerson 8 years, 11 months ago

p.s. Two of the photos are labeled "2006 Perry Fireworks" -- is that a typo, or are the photos really from 06?

3ofClubs 8 years, 11 months ago

In the caption under the main photo, it says "Lawrence Originals Independence's Day Celebration." I thought it was Independent's Day as in independent restaurant owners, a play on words, as it were.

texburgh 8 years, 11 months ago

This was a fabulous Independence Day.

What a treat it was to have the bike races in the afternooon followed by all that great food at great prices in the park, fine local bands, all capped off with fireworks.

While I was "behind the trees," it was still a terrific display. I actually enjoyed seeing some of them through the trees.

I think we all owe a great debt of gratitude to the Lawrence Originals. These great locally owned restaurants stepped up for the community in sponsoring the fireworks. But they do so much more through the GiveBack program. When we dine out, we make it a point of dining in the many locally owned restaurants we have here in Lawrence and I really believe our loyalty to them was repaid last night.

I also hope we have more Lawrence Originals food festivals. The one last October was a delight and last night was truly splendid.

They are a major part of what makes Lawrence such a great town.

Lori Nation 8 years, 11 months ago

The display was lame. Fireworks display at Washburn University is way better!!

Bobbi Walls 8 years, 11 months ago

For being a larger town, I have to say that the fireworks here were very bad and the finale was the worst part. We went to the Tonganoxie fireworks a few weeks back, and the finale there lasted around 15 minutes. Lawrence can do way better than what we saw last night.

Beth Ennis 8 years, 11 months ago

I hope this becomes an annual event! The bike races were great, the food in the park was great and the fireworks were great! Was everything perfect, no. Have I ever been to an event that is perfect, nope. We had such a great time, it just didn't matter. I will say that last year, when they were down at Clinton Lake, we left before the fireworks started because there were too many idiots in the parking lot at the ball fields who thought they could light off fireworks in a crowded parking lot and still be safe. We almost got hit a few times before we left. I enjoyed last night's event so much better. It was truly an entire day's celebration and not just fireworks, which is why it was so much better! Thank you to all the sponsors. You have always had our business and will continue to get it.

Kat Christian 8 years, 11 months ago

I didn't go and I'm glad because I didn't have to fight the traffic, the heat, the chiggers and other bugs, testy people, bratty yelling and whiny kids, and blocked fireworks. Yeah!!

mh3808 8 years, 11 months ago

The festival type atmosphere was great, the food was reasonably priced (as well as the beer, with the 23rd Street waitresses getting blitzed during the show and handing out free everything after), the music was good, but the show was disappointing. It was just kind of a let down with the trees. Lots of people migrated to the other park but we didn't feel like doing that after being situated there for 5 hours. I don't think it was a bad show, some weird gaps in between fireworks, but overall I enjoyed everything. I would go back next year.

But please, don't play all that horrible "patriotic" music during the show. Like "I'm an American" and whatever song plays on those Ford truck commercials. Gross. I guarantee that does not describe most Americans, especially those in Lawrence, and definitely not me. Sorry, not trying to make this into a patriotism debate.

You want to play some cool music that is appropriate for the scene? Try Explosions in the Sky.

nut_case 8 years, 11 months ago

sunshine_noise (Anonymous) blathers… "I didn't go and I'm glad because I didn't have to fight the traffic, the heat, the chiggers and other bugs, testy people, bratty yelling and whiny kids, and blocked fireworks. Yeah!!"

I'm glad you didn't go, too. Where are you from that low 70's on the 4th of July qualifies as "the heat"?!?

socnick 8 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence can do way better than that mediocre fireworks display! There was no point in having that show last 45 minutes. The long pauses between the intervals of two fireworks being shot were way to long. The show should have been condensed down to 25 minutes while shooting off the same amount of fireworks, which would have provided a lot more excitement. People started leaving before the "grand finale" due to the length of the break before it which is very laughable. I wish i would have left too because that was the worst grand finale of any fireworks show I have ever seen in my life! Come on Lawrence! That fireworks display was horrible and a very embarrassing way to end the night for the city of Lawrence.

wordgenie8 8 years, 11 months ago

It certainly was one of the most "booming" 4th of July celebrations I've experienced in some time. With our sensitive ears pets and contemplative people like me live for such occasions. Prayed hard for rain, but it only worked Friday. My neighborhood sounded like a regular gunpowder factory until after 2am Sunday.

tce1227 8 years, 11 months ago

We went downtown with the kids at about 7:30pm - to play in the bouncers, watch the end of the race and then head to Watson Park for fireworks.

Although the race was great to watch, the bouncers were already down - even though the paper said they would be up till 9pm. I was one mom with some unhappy kids. They rode the one ride that remained open (even the guy running that ride didnt know why the bouncers were shut down early). Then we headed to Watson Park.

I have to agree with those who were disappointed that they couldnt see the fireworks well from the park. I have seen much better fireworks displays in towns much, much smaller. Seems a town like Lawrence could get it right.

The kids had an ok time, and I hope they do the all-day event again. Maybe next time, rides/games will remain open until the time the paper says and people who go to the park recommended will be better able to see the grand finale.

AlligatorMama 8 years, 11 months ago

The lake was better! Bring the Lawrence vendors etc out to the lake and do it there again. At least you could actually see the fireworks and parking wasn't a problem.

The food was good, atmosphere was nice, but you couldn't see any of the fireworks because of the trees.

kateku 8 years, 11 months ago

I watched the display from a hill up by Hutton Farms. It was AWESOME!

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