Storm can’t dampen Newark’s July 4 fun
Thousands attend Independence Day festival, fireworks
As a heavy downpour drenched the University of Delaware athletic complex Tuesday evening, sending Liberty Day attendees scrambling for their cars, Breena Brown couldn’t have been happier.
With a big smile on her face, the 4-year-old danced around in a circle in the rain as her mom, Charitie, huddled under an umbrella.
“As long as she’s happy, I’m good,” Charitie Brown said, laughing.
For the Newarkers gathered to celebrate Independence Day with the annual Liberty Day festival and fireworks show, a carefree attitude like Breena’s came in handy.
Just as the festivities were about to begin at 6 p.m., a thunderstorm moved through the area, prompting city officials to urge those gathered to take shelter in their cars. Most heeded the warning, though a few people, like Luis Camacho, decided to brave the storm.
Shielded by two large umbrellas, Camacho sent his family to the car but stayed on the lawn in front of Delaware Stadium to save their spot.
“I wanted to keep everything here,” he said. “I didn’t want to pack up.”
Across the lawn, David Zavala and Gretchen Lewis were sitting in lawn chairs complete with a built-in canopy.
“I’ve got my canopy, I’m set,” Zavala said.
“We’re going to ride it out,” Lewis added.
Fortunately for attendees, the storm moved through quickly and the festivities were underway in less than an hour. After a second brief downpour, the skies brightened, and a rainbow appeared over Delaware Stadium.
Food trucks offered a variety of culinary options, vendors sold light-up toys and other novelties, and local bands The Honeycombs and Country By Night entertained
the crowd. The culmination, of course, was a half-hour fireworks show that delighted the thousands of people at the stadium and more watching from other areas of the city.
Clad in an Uncle Sam hat and American flag sunglasses, Jeff Brown said he and his wife have been attending the festival for years and weren’t going to miss it this year.
“We were watching the radar and were a little iffy but figured we could deal with a little rain,” he said.
In the parking lot of Delaware Stadium, Patrick Komiskey and his 5-year-old son, James, were relaxing in padded seats as they waited for the fireworks to begin.
“I picked these up at a thrift shop,” Komiskey said, referring to the seats. “I’m not sure what they’re for, but as soon as I saw them, I knew what I’d use them for.”
After all, Tuesday was a milestone for little James.
“This will be his first memorable fireworks show,” Komiskey said.
Nearby, Sarah McElvogue, Lauryn Smyth and Claire O’Keefe were experiencing firsts of their own. The teens live in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, and are visiting the United States for a month as part of the Ulster Project exchange program. Their host family, the Hamelins, brought them to Liberty Day to experience an American Independence Day celebration.
The girls appeared to fit right in, wearing red, white and blue headbands as they waited for the fireworks to start.
“It’s so exciting,” Smyth said.
“Everybody’s very proud,” O’Keefe added, as she looked around at the patriotic crowd.
Fireworks explode above the University of Delaware Field House on Tuesday night.
Dee Krupa and 5-year-old Gabby take cover under an umbrella as a storm moves in.
Country By Night performs at Liberty Day.
Ray Hamelin, Sarah McElvogue, Katie Hamelin, Lauryn Smyth, Claire O’Keefe, Jacquie Hamelin and Kathi Hamelin wait for the fireworks to begin. The Hamelins are hosting the other three girls, all natives of Northern Ireland, for a month.
Breena Brown, 4, dances in the rain during Liberty Day.
Carrying a folding chair, Jeff Brown looks for a place to set up on the lawn in front of Delaware Stadium.
Alexander Camacho, 7, and Nashali Camacho, 4, are decked out in patriotic gear as they wait for the fireworks to begin Tuesday night.
Ian Chudzik, 5, and Declan Chudzik, 3, take cover from the rain as mom Stacy McNatt looks on.