Manchester celebrates Independence

MANCHESTER — A happy crowd filed into Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park under picture-perfect blue skies on Tuesday afternoon.

No one left until it was dark and the air was full of embers and smoke from the town's annual Independence Day fireworks display.

Throughout the park, while the sun was out, there was activity in all directions.

The basketball courts, baseball diamonds and playing fields, were bustling pick-up games.

The snack bar served up burgers, dogs and fried goodies. A band played classic rock and blues favorites. Frisbees filled the air.

Meanwhile, the crowds kept arriving — some by the foot path from Manchester Elementary Middle School, some in cars parked in the field along Bonnet Street — all while the sun sank below the mountains.

Children held sparklers, or festooned themselves with plastic glow-in-the-dark accessories. Among the grown-ups, two camps emerged: Those who had bug spray, and those who wished they did.

But then darkness fell, and 9:30 p.m. approached.

It started with a single bang, and a hush fell over the lawn chairs and blankets on the grass. It was showtime.

And then it started in earnest: a fusillade of explosive color patterns, one after another, echoed heavily off the mountains in every direction  to oohs and ahhs from the crowd.

At least one youngster was ready for the show to be over about halfway through. "Here comes the big one," he announced with every mortar rising into the sky.

Finally, he got his wish — a drum solo of explosions, in reds, blues and greens, lighting the park below and filling the air with the aroma of gunpowder for the finale.

If the crew that lit off the fireworks had any hearing left at all after 20 solid minutes of explosions, then they surely appreciated the loud cheers and applause that filled the park.


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