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Holiday revelers return to Hope Mills Lake

Posted July 3, 2009
Updated July 4, 2009

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— This Saturday night, fireworks will go streaking through the sky from atop a brand-new dam on Hope Mills Lake. It marks the return of the holiday celebration to the lake for the first time since heavy rains washed out the dam in 2003.

For six Independence Days, the bombs bursting in air had a little less bang in this small town. The lake was dry.

New dam brings fireworks back to Hope Mills Lake New dam brings fireworks back to Hope Mills Lake

"You know, it was very ugly for a while," resident Marissa Ayala said.

Hope Mills still celebrated Independence Day, but fireworks were not fired from the dam. The show took place at a park several blocks away.

"The parade and everything went on, but it's not the same," Ayala said.

Melissa Cooper grew up in Hope Mills and said every Fourth of July was spent at the lake.

"It's a good feeling, having it back and being able to bring my son back and enjoy the same memories I had," she said.

"I'm so excited, because it is a beautiful sight to see the reflection of those fireworks on the lake out here," Donna Gray added.

"I have to see the water," Ayala said. "That makes it. I'm from Puerto Rico, and this works."

Hope Mills Lake might not be the beaches of Puerto Rico or the Baltimore Harbor with bombs bursting in air. But the Star-Spangled Banner yet waves and the kids are back in the lake making waves, ready to celebrate the birth of a nation and the return of a tradition.

Gray, who owns the snack bar at the lake, said business has taken a hit after a child contracted a rare disease after swimming there. Health experts said the water is safe and encourage revelers to take a dip.

Town officials expect the biggest crowd in years on Saturday night.

"There are so many people down here enjoying it, standing shoulder to shoulder, oohing and aahing. It's beautiful. It’s the place to be,” Gray said.

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