Fireworks fly, but rain dampens Fourth festivities

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Fireworks explode at the Town Common on Independence Day 2017.


By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hundreds gathered on wet grass Tuesday after more than an hour of heavy rain almost snuffed out the Greenville Jaycees’ annual firework festival on the Town Common — almost.

The 46th annual Jaycees Fourth of July Festival began at 2 p.m. with a gathering of food vendors, live music and fun activities on the common and First Street downtown. Amy Moore, an organizer with the Jaycees, said most people were expected to arrive for the event about 6 p.m., right when heavy rainfall began.

The torrent forced vendors and visitors alike to shelter under trees and tents for more than an hour, and prompted many to leave the festival. Jaycee Dallas Ingrim joked that the rain came at only “the second worst time,” stopping soon enough to allow fireworks enthusiasts to get back to the park and watch the show.

Town Common and First Street were vacant at 7 p.m., but by 9:06, when a quick barrage signaled the beginning of the show, festival-goers filled the park, marking a high point in attendance for the day. Fireworks lasted for about 15 minutes and ended with the traditional grand finale.

The rainfall did not affect fundraising efforts for the Jaycee charity, Aces for Autism, too much. Moore said that vendors paid ahead of time to sell their wares at the festival. Vendors, however, were forced to shut down for an hour expected to be a peak time for business.

Norma Hill, a face painter for Balloons and Clowns, a Goldsboro-based entertainment company, said the rain was a disappointment that cost them revenue. But overall the day was still a success for vendors and the rainfall would not ruin their margins, she said.

She said that she and other vendors she spoke to were still satisfied with their sales and hope to participate in future events. This year, she said the emphasis on live music during the day helped bring in customers.

Hill, a 20-year veteran of the vending business, said that inclement weather and low attendance are constant variables.

“We were at a festival last week that many people didn't turn out for,” said Hill. “It’s not going to keep us away. You take your chances with these events.”

Several vendors did pack up their operations and leave after the rain ceased. Mad Vapes left because of concerns over water damaging their equipment, and a henna stand that was barraged by water left out of necessity.

Other vendors left because they believed that few people would return after the rain, Ingrim said. They lost a great opportunity when a surge arrived at 8 p.m., he said.

Contact Seth Gulledge at sgulledge@reflector.com and 329-9579.