Thousands of Jefferson County residents converged on Sam Michael's Park Saturday evening, despite the possibility of continued storms, to enjoy the annual Independence Day celebration. Gates opened at 5 p.m. kicking off the start of the holiday season in the county.
The event, sponsored in part by Jefferson County Parks and Recreation and Ranson Parks and Recreation, was organized by a committee made up of members of those two organizations and the county at large. No admission charge was tendered to those wishing to attend and the committee had worked throughout the year to raise the nearly $26,000 to host the event.
Local entertainers volunteered their time to perform on the stage. Joe Ham, local acoustic guitarist, started off the evening with his bluesy bluegrass music and original songs. He was followed by Jennifer Maghan and Bob Williams, father and daughter, who sang and strummed through a variety of songs. Finishing off the evening was Merlin's Beard, an Irish Celtic band who had audience members clapping along.
Co-chair of the committee, Jimmy Pierson, called the evening a success. Despite a lower turnout than last year's event, probably due to the storms that had rocketed through the area Friday evening causing Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to issue a State of Emergency, Pierson said folks were enjoying themselves.
"Everyone seemed to be having a good time," he said. "The show was fantastic and you could hear the oohs and ahs as the fireworks went off."
Those fireworks were presented by Digital Lightning, a company that offers special event lighting and fireworks productions for both local and national events. Established in 1998, Digital Lightning has earned a reputation for innovative, creative lighting designs for every occasion with personal attention and the highest level of customer service. Recognized as an award-winning company, Digital Lightning has been named as "Technical Supplier of the Year" by Event Solutions Magazine, "Best Wedding Lighting" from Washingtonian Magazine, received several ISES Capital Awards and has been nominated twice for Special Events Magazine prestigious Gala Award.
Owners Vince and Alysha DiGiorgio said that they love to come to Jefferson to do the show here.
"We enjoy this so much," Alysha said. She explained that they are able to set off larger pyrotechnics at this location than they can at many of their shows.
"We can use 10 and 12 inch shells which require a larger distance from the crowd," Alysha said. "In the city, we can't set off these larger shells."
The explosions over the park wowed the crowds both at the park and outside its boundaries and watchers once again gathered at Jefferson High School to avoid the long lines of traffic leaving the park. Many in neighboring developments took the opportunity to host friends and family to enjoy the show from their backyards.