The power may have been out in Gaithersburg a week ago, but the city would not let a storm ruin its Independence Day festivities, rescheduling the annual celebration a week later in the event titled “Finally, Fireworks!”
The name was fitting after Gaithersburg and other cities affected by the power outages canceled their scheduled fireworks celebrations. Many cities, such as Germantown, decided not to reschedule fireworks shows, but on July 13, the festivities at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds carried on as if no one realized the celebration was a week late.
“I was expecting the event to take place on the Fourth of July, but when I found it was canceled, I just ended up staying home,” Abdulai Conteh, of Gaithersburg, said. “I’m really happy they rescheduled the event.”
“We were planning on going to see the fireworks over at Germantown last week, but they got canceled,” Germantown's Crystal Esler said. “It’s good they have this event. We were excited to come here. My son was really looking forward to seeing the fireworks.”
Last year’s celebration drew an estimated 8,000 attendees, according to an email from Britta Monaco, the public information officer for the City of Gaithersburg. While this year’s attendance numbers may have been down, those who made it to the event appeared to have enjoyed themselves.
Children kicked soccer balls, threw frisbees and footballs, and played with glow sticks. Families lounged on lawn seats and sat on towels, enjoying snacks while listening to live music.
Maryland's Bobby & the Believers played covers of hits such as “Crazy in Love,” “I Will Survive” and “Poker Face” while spectators danced and sang along. People waved tiny American flags and chatted with friends and family.
At 8:15 p.m., Gaithersburg Mayor Sidney A. Katz gave a speech to the festival attendees. Katz and other council members led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and Katz said that the money raised through the event would help support the power recovery effort and those who were affected by the power outages. He gave his appreciation to those who made the event possible and also to those serving in the Armed Forces.
“We’re here tonight to celebrate community,” said Katz.
When the sky finally darkened after 9 p.m., the band stopped playing and fireworks of all different colors, shapes and sizes began to burst against the backdrop of the cloudy night sky to a soundtrack of patriotic songs. With each booming sound and explosion of light, sounds of awe and amazement could be heard from children and adults alike.
“I think the city always does a good job, especially with being a small town, with the fireworks,” said Andrew Beardall of Gaithersburg, who attended the event with his two sons, Matthew and Parker.
“They were cool,” said Parker. “Some were really big. And some were loud enough that you could feel it in your heart, beating your chest.”
After the show ended to a round of applause, people began gathering their friends and family and started leaving the fairgrounds to brave the traffic home, carrying memories of a belated but seemingly satisfying community celebration.