Fourth of July 2.0 gives Dover a second shot

With the “Wall that Heals” in the foreground, fireworks from the 2015 Dover Fourth of July celebration rise above the capital. 2016 make-up fireworks will go off at 8:15 p.m. Saturday. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

With the “Wall that Heals” in the foreground, fireworks from the 2015 Dover Fourth of July celebration rise above the capital. 2016 make-up fireworks will go off at 8:15 p.m. Saturday. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

DOVER — It has been almost eight weeks since wicked weather put a damper on Dover’s Independence Day celebration.

Fireworks canceled.

Postponed until Saturday, Sept. 3.

There was quite a bit of grumbling — and a fair share of praise for putting safety first — from folks who had plans to bring the lawn chairs down to Legislative Hall for the annual fireworks show.

“Dover 4th of July 2.0” is the new name for the event.

“Among the committee, we’re referring to it as Fourth of July in overtime,” said Greg Patterson, president of the Fourth of July Committee.

As it turned out there was light rain at the time the fireworks were supposed to go off.

But heavy rains soon rolled in.

“There was clear disappointment,” said Mr. Patterson.

He said it appeared there was going to be a big crowd. There was quite a bit of foot traffic in the state historical areas during the day when he put out some signs to notify people of the fireworks cancellation.

“We were as disappointed as anyone else,” said Mr. Patterson. “We do this for the joy of seeing thousands of people enjoy the show put on.”

Mr. Patterson leads a core group of 10 volunteers who put together the event.

Donations pay for the fireworks.

The City of Dover provides police and fire support.

The committee has been doing the Fourth of July celebration for about a decade, keeping a tradition the Central Delaware Chamber Commerce had been doing since the Bicentennial in 1976.

Mr. Patterson’s father, Gary, and the late chamber president Al Hedgecock had organized it for years.

Why Labor Day?

The decision to go with Labor Day weekend as the makeup date came down to the availability of the fireworks company.

This year’s 18-minute show — accompanied by the music from the Broadway hip-hop smash “Hamilton” — will be put on by Serpico Pyrotechnics.

The fireworks show will start about 8:15 p.m.

Jack Serpico, the owner, plans to be here Saturday for the show.

“After the issues last year, we went and found Serpico,” said Mr. Patterson. “They were as eager as we were to have a good show. We didn’t want to try to sneak something in between the rain drops or have something that didn’t go off well. He wanted to do it right since it’s his first show in Dover.”

In 2015, there was a mishap before the show in which the grand finale fireworks went off on ground. No one from the Zambelli Fireworks crew was injured.

A busy day

Starting at 9 a.m., there will be activities throughout Dover, including several First State Heritage Park programs.

Among the new features are Lenape Tribe of Delaware games at the John Bell House. A Lenape Drum Circle will perform at 6 p.m. on The Green.

The full list of activities can be found at www.Dover4thofJuly.com.

Music will start at 6 p.m. in front of Legislative Hall with jazz and big standards from the Milford Community Band’s Smooth Sounds Dance Band.

The opening ceremony for the fireworks show will begin at 7 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem and remarks.

At 7:15, the Dover High School Senator Band will perform. The Senators will be seated in front of Legislative Hall, playing songs from the upcoming season’s halftime show.

The Delaware National Guard 287th Army Band was supposed to play on July 4 at Legislative Hall. However, the band wasn’t available for the makeup date.

“I think it’ll be a little of a different vibe this weekend,” said Mr. Patterson.

Good-bye summer

So, here’s a question for you Kent Countians: Wouldn’t it be cool to have an end-of-summer celebration in the capital city every year?

Why should Bethany Beach get all the news coverage with its jazz funeral?

Why couldn’t we have some Kent Countians “pipe out summer” like Sammy Ferro, with his trombone, used to do in Rehoboth Beach each Labor Day?

The Wall That Heals

The photo with today’s column was taken during the 2015 Fourth of July celebration.

In the foreground was “the Wall That Heals” — a 250-foot replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. — that had been on display at the Kent County Veterans Memorial Park.

Interestingly, the wall will be in Delaware again this week.

On Wednesday, a display will be open at the Delaware Technical Community College Terry Campus before a large veterans motorcycle group leads the hauler with the exhibit inside to the DelTech Owens Campus in Georgetown.

The escort will follow Del. 1 to U.S. 113, starting about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“The Wall that Heals” will be open to the public at the Owens Campus Sept. 1-4.

Reach editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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