Fireworks lit the skies at Veterans Memorial Park to end another Independence Day filled with festivities in Mount Airy.
For nearly a decade the Surry Sunrise and Mount Airy Rotary Clubs have offered a free fireworks display at Veterans Park. Though the event was free, Rotary members stood outside the gate collecting donations at two locations.
The two clubs split the cost of the $9,000 fireworks display, according to Surry Sunrise president Jeff Boyles.
The fireworks could be viewed from Mount Airy High School. The donations of visitors at that location will be forwarded to a local food bank. The donations of those opting to watch the display from Veterans Park will be split between the food bank and the American Legion’s veterans service fund, which aides veterans in distress.
Though fireworks didn’t begin rising above the horizon until dusk, many folks flocked to the park hours in advance.
Once there, they found a laundry list of activities, including a free concert by the Soulshine Band.
In past years the event raised about $2,500 or $3,500 for charity, said then-president of the Surry Sunrise club Steve Norman at the 2015 display. However, attendance to the 2015 display was hampered by inclimate weather.
The same sort of weather threatened this year’s event, with clouds lingering overhead throughout the entire day. However, the display skirted the threat of bad weather, the fireworks went off without a hitch and many local residents weren’t deterred from attending.
Boyles said the clubs would likely exceed donations collected in 2015, which totalled about $1,800.
While giving to local charities is an important aspect of the event, Boyles said the Rotary-sponsored display started out of necessity.
“It was about to be dropped in 2003,” said Boyles, explaining the city and another organization had stopped funding the show.
“We are extremely proud to sponsor this event. It’s sort of our signature event,” said Boyles. “The Fourth shouldn’t go by without a community celebration.”
While local food banks and the veterans service fund profited from the event, some local residents didn’t walk away empty-handed either.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2019 held a raffle. The post raffled tickets for $500, $250 and $100 Visa gift cards.
Additionally, the American Legion’s Riders Club was on site displaying an item it is raffling. Former club director John Pavlick said he worked for nearly two years to build the custom chopper. He has more than $40,000 in the project.
Those who took the opportunity to sit on the chopper Monday evening before purchasing a ticket will have to wait until the winning ticket is drawn on Oct. 15.
Pavlick said tickets will be available until then, and he can be reached at 772-2462.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.