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Fireworks light the sky at Fourth of July celebrations across NC

Posted July 4, 2013
Updated July 5, 2013

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— Spectacular fireworks shot into the sky at community celebrations across central North Carolina Thursday night, capping a full day of Fourth of July festivities.

Thousands of people packed into downtown Raleigh for a fireworks double-header – the first show started at 9:15 p.m. at City Plaza and lasted nearly 40 minutes. A short while later, a larger fireworks display began at Red Hat Ampitheater. 

The festivities on Fayetteville Street kicked off at noon with plenty of sunshine and family-friendly fun stretching from City Plaza to the State Capitol.

"We love it. Can't believe it's this nice out, glad it's not raining," said Matthew Yesko. "We have two little kids and they're having a blast."

"They did a great (fireworks) show last year, so we can't wait to see both shows this year," added Kimberly Yesko. "It's going to be really exciting."

downtown Raleigh fireworks Fireworks dazzle crowds in downtown Raleigh

Clarissa Dunston said the festival was a good reminder of what it means to be an American.

"I think things are on the rise. People are coming together," she said. "They are understanding we have to pull together to rise together."

At Festival Park in Fayetteville, meanwhile, revelers had an Army sergeant to thank for food, fun and fireworks after Fort Bragg canceled its celebration due to sequestration.

Army sergeant wins TV contest to bring fireworks to Fayetteville Army sergeant wins TV contest to bring fireworks to Fayetteville

When Staff Sgt. Jeff Wells learned that the sky would be dark over the Army post this Fourth of July, he entered a writing contest, sponsored by cable TV network Destination America and newspaper USA Weekend, to win a patriotic bash for his community.

In 138 words, Wells explained why Fayetteville deserved the July Fourth party.

"To not have a fireworks display," he wrote, "is not only a morale-degrading scenario, but also a shame to those who have sacrificed so much."

City Plaza Fourth of July Raleigh's family-friendly Fourth of July makes big splash

A few weeks after entering the contest, Wells learned he had won.

So, on Thursday, hundreds of people enjoyed live music and food before the fireworks display shot off after dark.

"I have gotten a lot of thank yous," Well said. "It's kind of frustrating because it wasn't supposed to be about me."

It was supposed to be about the soldiers.

"I want soldiers to know they're still appreciated, still supported," he said.

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  • jlsmith4758 Jul 5, 2013

    The fireworks will never be at the fairgrounds again. The STATE owns the fairgrounds. The CITY pays for the fireworks, but it generates no revenue. The city has to pay to rent the fairgrounds from the state. The city "owns" downtown, and gets to collect tax revenue from all the businesses down there. The city gets to collect money from the parking decks. The city paid a little money for the fireworks, and then collected HUGE amounts in revenue. The city lost money on firework shows at the fairgrounds. For those of you who miss the "real fireworks" shot at the fairgrounds and didn't bother to go last night, the second show was the EXACT SAME shells. They shot 6 inch shells, and they never shot anything larger than that at the fairgrounds.

  • bobbobson23 Jul 5, 2013

    "The people who want the fireworks back at the fairgrounds are the same people that prefer going to a drive-through as opposed to getting out of their car and walking inside."

    Seeing as, with the Fairgrounds fireworks, most people were able to park at Ridgewood, lie on a blanket at Meredith College, and not feel like a bunch of packed sardines (while actually being able to see and enjoy a real fireworks show), I'd say you've got your metaphor mixed up.

  • IPayYouPay Jul 5, 2013

    For all those who love downtown celebration - TAKE YOUR TRASH WITH YOU INSTEAD OF LEAVING THEM AT THE PARKING SPOTS IN THE NEIGHBORHOODS WHERE YOU PARKED. TAKE YOUR TRASH WITH YOU!

  • IPayYouPay Jul 5, 2013

    bobbobson23: It WAS great back then. Influx causes a lot of problems...wants to change everything...Thank God I'm about to leave this world!!!!

  • IPayYouPay Jul 5, 2013

    Jimmytwotimes: Then don't park in my neighborhood "Boylan Heights" and slam your doors when you get back in it at 10:45 p.m. and sit with your car idling trying to get out. downtown means no room to park, no room to spread out a blanket on the grass or sit in a lawn chair. I'll Wha wha wha all I want to. Crowd downtown and see if the neighbors love ya. I know they won't.

  • IPayYouPay Jul 5, 2013

    Reed: The people who want the fireworks back at the fairgrounds are NORMAL people who enjoy a good old-fashioned country Fourth of July (lounging on a blanket in the grass or sitting on a lawn chair)...No, you downtowners are the "fast food drive through"

    InvolvedCitizen: I know what you mean...since moving this to downtown we stopped going - shoulder to shoulder wall to wall people...not for me...i love (Reed) getting out of the car and finding a nice grassy spot to spread a blanket down on and sit back and enjoy our little meal we "got out of our car" and purchased.

  • elizabethannehodge Jul 5, 2013

    Reed, I use drive-throughs when convenient but have no hesitation to go inside when the drive-through is backed up. However, there were no such alternatives with the fiasco last night in downtown Raleigh. It might have made it a bit more worthwhile if the fireworks were shot higher in the sky where people other than on Fayetteville street could have seen them too. After all, there is limited sardine-room on the mall. And don't forget about those of us that had to work on the holiday and therefore couldn't spend all day in downtown and get a juicy spot to watch the inferior display.

  • InvolvedCitizen Jul 5, 2013

    I was supportive of the downtown festivities, until just before the fireworks they enforced "No Loitering" in the parking deck I was in with my family. Wha-what? Many, many people had made their plans, arrived early and selected decks and spaces with a view. We had already explored Fayetteville St and then returned to our deck for a good view and quick escape. Lots of folks were chillin' and waiting for the show. Then we're told by patrolling officials that we could not watch from the deck, where we had paid to park, but had to move to street level. Really?! I found that infuriating. There are plenty of other options and we'll be going elsewhere next year.

  • Typical WRAL Commenter Jul 5, 2013

    The people who want the fireworks back at the fairgrounds are the same people that prefer going to a drive-through as opposed to getting out of their car and walking inside.

  • Jimmytwotimes Jul 5, 2013

    Wah Wah Wah, get over the fairgrounds, its not gonna be there anymore and the majority of people like it better downtown because there is a lot of fun stuff to do all day and night leading up to two firework shows. Traffic is nothing, took me 5 extra minutes to get home than it usually does. stop crying.

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