Accompanied by song lyrics that ran the gamut from the “purple mountain majesties” of America, the Beautiful to Katy Perry’s “Baby, you’re a firework,” Highland put on a spectacular show of fireworks Saturday, July 5 at the hamlet’s Town Field. There was great variety in the sequence of the show, with huge boomers and rings of starry bursts alternating with aerials that created an effect of delicate blooming Queen Anne’s Lace before dissolving into the night sky. Fountains of fireworks reached upward in a watery dancing movement, their edges extending almost to the tail ends of the serpentine trails of sparks coming back to Earth from above. There were even a few ring-shaped bursts that resembled hearts linked together.
The show was a credit to its organizers, the town Events Committee and the Highland Business Association, who also put together the evening of entertainment leading up to the fireworks. It was a real community affair, beginning hours earlier and drawing hundreds of people together to enjoy local food vendors, live and recorded music and a beautiful summer evening without humidity.
Local families arrived at Town Field from late afternoon on in a steady stream, carrying blankets and folding chairs along with a few picnic coolers. Town of Lloyd Police were a visible but friendly presence, one officer patrolling by Segway. The mood of the crowd was pretty low-key, with a lot of families passing the time before the fireworks by throwing Frisbees and footballs to each other and partaking of treats like fried dough covered in powdered sugar and ice cream from the Frozen Caboose. The “bounce castle” wasn’t empty for a moment; the kids inside jumping so continuously and vigorously that seen from a distance, the inflated castle seemed to jive in rhythm with the music piped over speakers throughout the park.
Bluesy rock music standards were performed live by the Touch of Rhythm band, and local DJs Tony Flash and Rick Knight provided recorded music in alternating sets. As the evening wore on, many people in the crowd either carried or wore balloon creations made by three young women from the high school’s Interact Club. President Kirti Shenoy, soon to be a tenth grader at Highland High School, explained that the club raises funds and contributes to both local and international causes, from volunteering at Ronald McDonald Houses to donating $1,000 to build wells in Ghana. Creating balloon novelties along with Shenoy were club members Jessica Cruz and Janessa Jackson, both of whom will be seniors in the next school term. Cruz said that the reason they knew how to make all of the balloon swords, turtle bracelets and animal balloons was really thanks to Jackson, whose family runs the nonprofit Family Outreach and regularly makes balloon creations to raise funds for their food pantry.
Manning a booth nearby were the Veterans of Foreign Wars, including Post Commander Bobby Rhodes and Chaplain Sandy Olson. The men had a steady stream of customers for cans of soda and bottled water, along with small American flags to wave, flag pins, red-white-and-blue pinwheels and rubber bracelets with patriotic sentiments. The VFW team included Dan McLaughlin and Tom Muff lending a hand, as well.
Food choices included chicken kabobs from Vigneto’s Café and hot dogs and hamburgers from Elia’s Meat Market, and Piece A Cake Dessert Catering offered sweets.
As the sun set, anticipation seemed to rise for the main event to come, which arrived finally around 9:30 p.m. marked by a sweet rendition of the National Anthem sung by recently graduated Highland High School senior and chorus member, Sarah Kassel. As she sung her final notes, the first rocket launched, and then the only other sounds to be heard beyond the accompanying music were “ooh” and “aah.”