$30K worth of fire­works to fill the sky

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­news.com

As the two grand fi­nales of fire­works went off si­mul­ta­ne­ously dur­ing the 2015 In­de­pen­dence on the Square in Cov­ing­ton, some spec­ta­tors staring up at the il­lu­mi­nated sky had tears trick­ling down their face.

The sheer vol­ume of col­or­ful ex­plo­sives struck a chord with many of the es­ti­mated 8,000 to 10,000 peo­ple gath­ered on the Cov­ing­ton Square on July 4, 2015. As this year’s hol­i­day ap­proaches, Cov­ing­ton res­i­dents can ex­pect an­other dose of fire­works and In­de­pen­dence Day fes­tiv­i­ties, but on an even big­ger scale.

Last year 1,200 fire­works shells at a cost of a lit­tle more than $27,000 were shot off from be­hind the Newton County Ju­di­cial Cen­ter. This year, 2,700 shells at a cost of $30,000 will be shot off from two lo­ca­tions this year start­ing at 9:45 p.m. Mon­day.

“This year we’re go­ing to blow the sky up,” said Robert Fox­worth, who gath­ered do­na­tions for the fire­works show.

Fox­worth has been pro­duc­ing fire­works shows and rais­ing money for the pa­tri­otic dis­plays in Newton County for eight years, in­clud­ing the last four in Cov­ing­ton. The for­mer Por­terdale City Coun­cil­man, who moved to Newton County from Texas in 1987, pro­duced two shows in Por­terdale be­fore tak­ing his ef­forts to Cov­ing­ton in 2012 af­ter then Cov­ing­ton City Man­ager Steve Hor­ton ap­proached him about do­ing a show near the Square.

Af­ter Fox­worth’s first fire­works show in Cov­ing­ton, Mayor Ron­nie John­ston ap- proached him and said the city coun­cil would help out fi­nan­cially as long as he wanted to keep pro­duc­ing the shows. Since then the coun­cil has matched the con­tri­bu­tions of Fox­worth and his donors dol­lar for dol­lar up to $10,000, the to­tal given by the city of Cov­ing­ton this year.

Fox­worth raised $12,000 in 2012, $16,000 in 2013, $20,000 in 2014 and $27,500 last year.

Fox­worth claims that around 60,000 to 70,000 peo­ple came to town -- ei­ther on the Square, along Hwy. 278 or even stopped on I-20 -- to see the show. Cov­ing­ton pub­lic safety tal­lied the crowd on the Square alone at more than 8,000 peo­ple last year.

While the fire­works are the big­gest draw, an­other sta­ple of Cov­ing­ton’s In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tion is the mu­sic. The mu­si­cal por­tion of the Fourth of July ac­tiv­i­ties started years ago with an idea Mack McKibben had of bring­ing peo­ple down­town. The first band that year was the Newton County Com­mu­nity Band led by T.K. Adams, and the list of mu­sic per­form­ers has grown ever since.

This year five mu­si­cal acts will per­form on two stages: one in the Square Park across from Wild Art and an­other in front of the Newton County His­toric Court­house. At 4:30 p.m. the mu­sic be­gins and Whiskey Bent takes the main stage. At 6 p.m. the Newton County Com­mu­nity Band and Mass Choir will per­form on the Square Park Stage. At 7 p.m. Tedo Stone will play on the main stage, fol­lowed by the Hud­son Road Band at 7 p.m. on the Square Park stage. Drive Time Band will round out the live mu­sic on the main stage start­ing at 8:50 p.m. From there, the Na­tional An­them will be played at 9:43 p.m., fol­lowed by the fire­works.

Fire­works will be launched si­mul­ta­ne­ously from be­hind the ju­di­cial cen­ter, and this year from the build­ing’s rooftop. Fox­worth talked with many county and city of­fi­cials in or­der to be per­mit­ted to use the build­ing’s rooftop as a plat­form to launch the fire­works, but feels that the lo­ca­tion will pro­vide an even bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence for spec­ta­tors.

“That’s why I wanted the rooftop of the [ju­di­cial cen­ter], be­cause I’m go­ing to mix it up,” he said. “I want to give peo­ple some­thing they haven’t seen be­fore.”

Events will start on the Square at 2 p.m. with ac­tiv­i­ties for chil­dren such as a ham­ster roll, spi­der jump, rock wall, bucket truck rides and tod­dler town fea­tur­ing a touch-a-truck area, in­flat­a­bles and photo op­por­tuni- ties with three Dis­ney-like hero­ines. There will also be a hy­drant re­lease and a wa­ter slide to cool off with, as well as a dunk­ing booth to get some­one else wet.

New to the event this year is a car­ni­val-type game fea­tur­ing wa­ter sprayers that for $1. The game of­fers the chance to win $5 in Main Street Bucks good for any­where on the Square.

Food ven­dors sell­ing fun­nel cakes, ket­tle corn, hot dogs and more will be on the Square, and all the restau­rants and stores will be open.

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