What is it about fireworks that cause us to stare in awe, wonder and amazement? Is it the colors, the patterns or the ever-present boom we hear, as the fireworks burst in the night sky? Perhaps it's the thought that 236 years ago, our forefathers celebrated our nation's independence with fireworks and the tradition continues today.
In our own community, the Fourth of July celebrations began early in the day with the Bogota Freedom Parade. The annual event is a fundraiser for the Bogota Community Center, a source of pride for the residents of the small community. Judy Childress, who coordinates the parade each year, thanked the many residents that came out and participated in the parade for taking the time to support the community center.
The parade featured a variety of participants including tractors, golf carts, four wheelers and even horses. The entry fees collected from the parade will support the upkeep of the community center. The event wrapped up with ice cream and drinks for all who participated.
However, Fourth of July is not complete without an impressive fireworks show, and this year's annual fireworks show sponsored by the city of Dyersburg amazed and delighted the crowds gathered on Community Park Road. For the second consecutive year, Gerald Ketchum and his team of pyrotechnists prepared a 45-minute show from the Dyer County Fairgrounds. Despite the dry conditions this year, the show went on without a hitch.
Dyer County Roads Superintendent Jeff Jones (center) leads residents gathered in the national anthem prior to the start of the Bogota Freedom Parade. The annual parade helps pay for the upkeep of the community center.
Chris Wilson, one of many pyrotechnists that Ketchum works with explained to the State Gazette how a firework works and how the dazzling light and sound show we see is even possible.
According to Wilson, each firework has a lift charge and an interior charge. The lift charge makes it possible for the firework to go up while the interior charge is a delayed fuse; it is the interior charge that gives the actual firework display.
Each firework must go into an appropriately sized tube in order for the fireworks to be effective. During the show, Ketchum's team is divided into shooters and loaders. The firework has a short fuse at the end of it, which is the portion that the shooters light. Shooters have only a second or two to get out of harm's way once they have lit the short fuse. As shooters work their way around the tubes lighting fireworks, loaders will reload the tubes with new fireworks.
State Rep. Bill Sanderson leads the way in the parade delighting the crowd with patriotic tunes on his trumpet.
It is a precise system that has to be executed flawlessly in order to give the display we have all come to know and love; most shows of this magnitude are done by computer but Ketchum's team is one of two crews in the state that still light their fireworks by hand.