Mother Nature lit up the night skies on July 4 and so did the Town of Vinton with Fireworks by Grucci.
While other localities postponed or cancelled their fireworks displays, Vinton forged ahead, making the decision to move up the time of the show from 9:30 to 8:45 because of the impending storm.
The fireworks show was spectacular this year– launched close up from the Vinton War Memorial parking lot instead of from the more distant fields of Vinyard Park in Berkley’s Bottom as in years past.
Before the storm came, there was a patriotic program with heartfelt remarks by Vinton Mayor Brad Grose, the invocation by Pastor Grant Beecher of Vertical Church, the Pledge of Allegiance led by J.D. Sutphin of the Low, Low Chariot band, and the national anthem sung magnificently by recent William Byrd graduate Eva Pierce.
Mayor Grose thanked those in attendance who came out to celebrate “the birthday of the greatest nation on earth– the United States of America.”
“We are free because of the blessings of God and the sacrifices of so many brave men and women,” said Grose, in recognizing veterans, current members of the Armed Forces, first responders in police, fire and EMS and rescue squad roles, and volunteers, “who have helped us to achieve and maintain our quality of life.”
He asked the crowd to consider the importance of government employees who serve as well– teachers, Social Services workers, those in Public Works, those who staff town governments, “who enrich all our lives.”
“No nation equals ours,” said Grose. “There is no better place to live on earth, and we live in the very best place, right here in Virginia, right here in Vinton, with lives beyond the imagination of most people around the world.”
Grose went on to say that anyone who is willing to work hard and obey the laws can become successful in America.
“I trust that you are patriotic and give back to the community,” he said to those seated on the front lawn of the War Memorial celebrating Independence Day. “I recommend we rededicate ourselves. Let us all continue to be loyal American patriots.”
Grose thanked members of town staff who organized and facilitated the annual Fourth of July event, especially Chasity Barbour, Director of Community Programs and Facilities, Assistant Town Manager Pete Peters, Assistant Public Works Director William “Bo” Herndon, members of the Vinton Police Department, and Roanoke County Fire and EMS, including the Vinton First Aid Crew.
In his prayer, Pastor Beecher thanked God for blessing the nation with freedom over 200 years ago.
“Let us be reminded you first loved us,” said Beecher. “Men and women gave their lives for us to be free. Let us be worthy of these lives. May we be thankful in a nation where we are free to worship and live how we choose.”
The crowd responded with great appreciation to vocalist Eva Pierce, a student of music teacher Susan Lewis. She will be attending Elon University in the fall to study opera. She began performing at age 7 and has appeared in numerous productions at William Byrd, the Burton Center for Performing Arts, and Star City Playhouse in the years since. She has also won the Vinton Breakfast Lions Club Bland Music Scholarship Competition. Pierce performed the national anthem at her high school graduation in May.
The Independence Day celebration included bouncy houses for the children from Let’s Party, multiple food trucks, including Chef Claytor’s Dream on a Plate, Duck Donuts, Master Sgt. BBQ, Deb’s Frozen Lemonade, CMK’s BBQ, Texas Tavern, and DG Ice, along with Twin Creeks Brewing Company.
Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church across Washington Avenue served up free ice cream, as is their tradition.
Low, Low Chariot, playing “Virginia Raised Country Music,” was the featured band and stuck it out until the event was called due to lightning in the area.
Despite the severe storm, perhaps even enhanced by the thunder and lightning all around, the fireworks show was awe-inspiring. The fireworks were launched just below the Municipal Pool by Fireworks by Grucci, which is based at the Radford Arsenal Ammunition Plant.
With the change in launch site, smaller shells were required for safety (six-inch shells had been used in past years); however, the closer site balanced out with the reduced size (but an increased number) of shells to produce an incredible display. The cost of the show remained at approximately $10,000. The pyrotechnic technicians set off over 2,000 shells, sizes three inches or less, for a duration of about 20 minutes.
Most of the crowd stayed in place until the downpour began and even then many stalwarts stood their ground– mostly under umbrellas– to see the grand finale.
Brandi Thomas, who works at the Dogwood Restaurant, took some of the most stunning photographs, which were especially meaningful to her this year.
“The flag has always meant something to me, but more importantly my daughter is about to become a United States Marine on the 20th,” said Thomas. “So, this year it held an extra special place in my heart. Freedom isn’t free and my girl is so brave. Proud Mom!
“These were the best fireworks in a long time from my hometown and I am so glad I was there to see them!” Thomas added.