Storm can’t dampen Ne­wark’s July 4 fun

Thou­sands at­tend In­de­pen­dence Day fes­ti­val, fire­works

Newark Post - - Front Page - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

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.

NE­WARK POST PHOTOS BY JOSH SHAN­NON

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.

NE­WARK POST PHOTOS BY JOSH SHAN­NON

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.

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