Raleigh fireworks go off without a hitch, officials say
Posted July 5, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The city of Raleigh’s two fireworks celebrations went off with only minor complications Thursday, compared with a lackluster 2012 Fourth of July show that drew numerous complaints.
City leaders were optimistic heading into this year after learning from their mistakes last year. While the 2012 event drew some 50,000 people downtown, many complained that the fireworks were not high enough to see over the buildings and that traffic and parking created hassles.
This year’s Independence Day celebration, dubbed “The ‘Works,” began at noon with live music and performances on Fayetteville Street and culminated with two fireworks displays – the first at 9:15 p.m. over the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts on Fayetteville Street and the second at about 10:30 p.m. by the Red Hat Ampitheater.
“I think it was great,” Mayor Nancy McFarlane said Friday. “The weather was perfect. The fireworks were high, and that was important. The Fayetteville Street fireworks, I think they went on for 30 minutes. It was unbelievable. Everybody had a good time.”
Ann Freeman was in the crowd and said she thought the event offered a great atmosphere and "fantastic" fireworks.
"This year was really good," she said. "The colors, the brightness and the fact that they had it twice was even better."
There was a hiccup that delayed the second show by about 20 minutes. Raleigh police said many in the crowd left after the first fireworks display, and the exodus of people and vehicles temporarily blocked the “safe zone” to set off fireworks at the amphitheater.
"People started getting upset just because of the fact that everyone was so cramped," said spectator Daniel Scott.
McFarlane counted down twice to start the second show, and nothing happened twice.
"It was a little awkward, but I did get the message it was safety concerns," she said.
Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said officers also responded to a crowd that had gathered about 10 p.m. in the 300 block of Fayetteville Street, near the Wake County Courthouse.
The officers said they were dispersing the crowd when the found a 16-year-old boy launching bottle rockets. The teen was charged with causing a public disturbance.
Sughrue said the sound of the bottle rockets caused some people to flee, thinking there was a shooting.
A handful of Independence Day celebrations will take place Friday and Saturday, including the event for the City of Garner. The festivities include recognition of Garner's All-America City designation and a fireworks display starting about 9:30 p.m.