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Wake Forest kicks off Fourth of July early with fireworks show

Posted July 3, 2013

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— Fourth of July celebrations have officially begun in the Triangle as the Town of Wake Forest kicked off its 40th annual fireworks show Wednesday night.

Revelers enjoyed music, food and fun at Wake Forest High School before the show, which cost $15,000 and lasted just over 10 minutes due to a brief fire scare.

Four decades ago, Geri Stenzel dreamed up the event with a friend.

"We had a good thing the first year and we wanted it for '76. That was our goal," she said. "We never dreamed 40 (years), but this is overwhelming how big it's gotten. It's wonderful."

That first year, in 1973, the fireworks cost about $500 and lasted five minutes. Stenzel said the show was cut short because the fireworks, which were being stored at the town jail, got too wet in a rain storm.

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The party continues Thursday with a children's parade through downtown and arts and games at Holding Park. 

Many communities across the Triangle are planning fireworks and other celebrations for Thursday. WRAL's Out & About highlighted a few events in its best bets list and compiled a map with the full list of celebrations in the area.

After a disappointing show last year, downtown Raleigh has expanded its fireworks shows into two sets – promising a vantage point for many more people.

"We made it bigger," said Taylor Traversari, spokesman for Red Hat Ampitheater. 

The first display begins at 9:15 p.m. over the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts, designed to be visible from anywhere on Fayetteville Street, and the second fireworks show kicks off at 10:15 p.m. at Red Hat Amphitheater, designed to be visible to anyone west of Fayetteville Street.

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The later show will be bigger, with music beginning at 6 p.m.

"Those are the big shells. Those are the 6-inch shells that are very comparable to what people used to see at the fairgrounds," Traversari said. "They will get big and booming up in the air."

The city isn't paying for the second show; it's being funded by private sponsors.

Traversari said organizers did a test show a few weeks ago.

"It's big and boom-bastic down here," he said. 

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