Family, fashion and fireworks: Owensboro celebrates 'All-American Fourth of July' (2024)

Freddie Bourne, Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.

·4 min read

While thunderstorms and rain showers made appearances earlier Thursday, the weather cleared up in time for the city of Owensboro’s “All-American Fourth of July” celebration in honor of Independence Day.

The annual event, presented by Meijer, saw plenty of foot traffic making their way up and down Veterans Boulevard to the multiple food trucks and vendors while also taking in a scenic view along the riverfront hours before the prime-time fireworks commenced.

For some attendees, like Tori Jackson of Tell City, Indiana, coming out to the downtown area for July 4 has become a familial tradition.

“This is our fourth year here, and we love it,” Jackson said, who was joined by her 17-year-old daughter, Jayelyn Fliehman, and Fliehman’s best friend, Addison Hunt, also 17. “We always come and stand in the same spot. We listen to the same band. We just vibe with it all.”

Jackson said they all make it a point to dress up for the occasion every year by donning patriotic colors each time they make the hour-long trek out to Owensboro — including colorful handprints, bead necklaces and a “Born to Sparkle” ball cap with a gray-glittered bill.

“It’s all about America. It’s about the red, white and blue — so why not go all out every year?” Jackson said. “Every year it gets better.

“We even got our glow sticks for later on.”

And Jackson and company make sure to get to the event early to secure the same bench located along the riverfront walkway behind the Hampton Inn Downtown Owensboro-Waterfront — which she finds is the ideal spot to view the 15-minute fireworks display.

“The barge stops right over there (across the Ohio River),” she said, “and every year, (Jayelyn and I) have gotten the same picture, the same spot with the barge behind us.”

Masonville couple James Wathen and Penny Worthington were spotted matching shirts with the phrase “Fireworks, Family & Freedom.”

“These are new this year,” Worthington said of the clothing. “We all get holiday shirts every year, something red, white and blue every year. Sometimes they match, sometimes they don’t.”

But she said the three words showcased on this year’s attire have a personal connection.

“Well we love fireworks,” Worthington said with a laugh, “but freedom is very important. As a matter of fact, our son is in the (U.S. Army) National Guard. … He’s only been in a little bit (as) he just got out of basic in February.”

Worthington said that she “really likes” the fireworks show downtown, which she and the family typically view in the grassy area nearby McConnell Plaza, not far from the live music.

“They do a good job for it being a small town like we are,” she said.

Besides the display along the riverfront, which launched from barges on the Ohio River, three other shows ran simultaneously at Southern Little League fields on South Griffith Avenue, Owensboro Sportscenter/Moreland Park and from Owensboro Warehouse Leasing, the former General Electric plant, on Old Hartford Road — all set to a soundtrack.

It was just after 4:30 p.m. when Stuart Snow, a pyrotechnician working under Jerry Casabella with Mauckport, Indiana-based Casabella Pyrotechnics, gave the all-clear to his crew working the Southern Little League fields show — which mirrored the same shows at the Sportscenter and OWL — that they were ready for showtime after six-hours of set up.

“We kind of hit-and-missed with the weather today. We started it, and then we had to stop and then we started again,” Snow said Thursday. “... We’ve got up to five-inch shells at the (satellite locations) … and there’s several hundred shells for the whole show.”

Snow said the color scheme consisted of the traditional Fourth of July colors along with some “very specific moments” staged.

“During some of the songs, we pick out a word. It might say ‘pink’ in the song (and) you’re gonna see something pink in the air ….,” he said. “It’s pretty neat how it’s done.”

Though a lot of time goes into preparing for the night, Snow said it’s all worth it once he sees the explosives hit the sky.

“The biggest thing for me … is when you get done with the show (and) the last shell goes, you just see the pyrotechnician just standing for a minute because he wants to hear (if) the crowd (liked) it. That’s the whole reason we do it,” Snow said. “Kids clapping, kids getting excited through it …. It’s awesome.”

Family, fashion and fireworks: Owensboro celebrates 'All-American Fourth of July' (2024)
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