Despite temperatures exceeding 90 degrees, Red, White & Boom drew hordes of people to downtown Columbus on Friday.
Between the smells of funnel cakes, the top 40 tunes from WNCI-owned speakers (97.9 FM) on Broad Street and Civic Center Drive, and the sights of airplane banner ads, people began to congregate in the downtown early Friday, with organizers expecting over 450,000 people in attendance.
If you missed Red, White & Boom, don’t worry: Suburban 4th of July fireworks will take place throughout Greater Columbus all weekend through early next week.
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Joy Cornett, 64, of the East Side, and her family sat on Broad and Front Streets, waiting for Ford’s Oval of Honor Independence Day Parade, which featured everything from candidates politicians and martial arts display teams at COSI and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The loudest applause from the parade crowd went to its “Grand Marshals” – 15 veterans of conflicts such as World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as former prisoners of war and guards from the military flag.
“My sister, my mom, and my grandkids, we come every year for the parade, we set up shop right here in this same neighborhood, and my brothers have a tent and we come to see the fireworks,” Cornett said. . “We are so happy to be back at Red, White & Boom.”
Cornett and his family arrived at 3 p.m., seven hours before the scheduled time for the 10 p.m. fireworks display.
Killing time was the name of the Downtown game for early risers.
“I pass the time watching these guys running around, snacking and eating, enjoying the view and people watching,” she said. “They (his grandchildren) had a chance to walk around and see things for the kids.”
Throughout the evening people played games, children ran in the parks and others just people watched.
Mel Lehman, 54, of San Antonio, shared a tent with family and friends at Bicentennial Park and spent the time eating, catching up with family members and walking around the celebration area.
“We’re taking this opportunity to catch up and see what everyone else has been up to, because we’re from out of town,” he said. “We arrived around 11:30 p.m., and we usually make it a tradition – come here, eat out, and come back and relax for the rest of the afternoon.”
Attendees agreed that returning from the event was a welcome return and a welcome distraction from their day-to-day worries.
“It’s positive,” Cornett said. “It’s a sad situation with some of the issues that arise, like gun violence. I know people who won’t come down…they’re scared of the gun situation. People won’t come down because of the situation. racial.”
Cornett added that she felt safe downtown, thanks to her faith.
Some attendees wore shirts reading “Stars and Stripes and Reproductive Rights”, along with signs reading “No Rights, No Fireworks” and “USA: Land of the Free? Abort the Supreme Court!” in response to the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Around 7 p.m., protesters entered the crowds at Civic Center Drive and Rich Street and chanted slogans such as “abortion is health care” and “my body, my choice.”
“The 4th of July is about celebrating America, and I’m not proud to celebrate because overturning Roe v. Wade is getting rid of women’s rights,” said Chelsea Sudar, 34, of Galloway. “I was raised Catholic, so I understand the pro-life movement. However, there’s so much more to Roe vs. Wade and women have rights.”
Sudar was wearing one of the aforementioned shirts.
“The reason I wear this shirt is because we have to recognize women’s rights,” Sudar said.
After a technical delay of 15 minutes, the “star” attraction, the fireworks, is launched. The soundtrack featured music from The Ohio State University Marching Band, Lee Greenwood, Rick Astley, The Weeknd, and Lizzo.
The fireworks and the holiday are special for Tahah Jawad, 17, from Dublin, who is the grandson of immigrants from Pakistan.
“For me, it was kind of a celebration,” Jawad said. “It’s a party: getting together, seeing fireworks, eating good food.”
After the fireworks, Jawad said it was worth the wait.
“I’ve seen fireworks in Niagara Falls, and it doesn’t compare,” he said. “It was long and it was crazy, like the sparklers…those were my favorites. It was worth the wait.”