Stars & Stripes kicks off area fireworks celebrations

Fireworks explode over Millsboro Pond Saturday night during Stars & Stripes III, presented by the Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

MILLSBORO — Joyce Snead loves fireworks shows.

So do family members.

“Every time I hear about fireworks, I’m gone,” the Harbeson resident said. “I tell them, ‘If you’re going you better catch the bus!’ If you don’t, I am not waiting!”

Ms. Snead was among the several thousand patrons who gathered Saturday at Millsboro’s Cupola Park for Stars & Stripes III — the third edition of the Greater Millsboro Chamber of Commerce’s community-based event capped at dusk by fireworks.

Ms. Snead was one the early birds. She arrived some four hours before the start of the pre-fireworks 6 to 9 p.m. celebration, accompanied by Debbie Blake, great-grandsons Jeremiah Johnson and Bravon Johnson and granddaughter Brianna Snead.

They staked out their shaded spot with a clear view overlooking the John J. Williams Highway Bridge and Millsboro Pond, from where the fireworks were launched professionally by Brothers Pyro LLC.

It was the exact spot Ms. Snead viewed Stars & Stripes II.

“It was awesome. Even the people on the bridge, they were creeping just so they could see the fireworks. They way set them off it’s lovely,” said Ms. Snead. “I get a good view. Last year when we got here there was a whole lot of people here. So, I wasn’t the only early bird.”

Stars & Stripes III, staged June 29, marked the unofficial kickoff to the Independence Day celebrations in southern Delaware.

Some Stars & Stripes patrons arrived several hours early, such as Joyce Snead, back left, and Debbie Blake, right, and family members. In front Brianna Snead, Bravon Johnson and Jeremiah Johnson. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

Kevin Turner, Greater Millsboro Chamber’s chairman of the board, likes to think Stars & Stripes once again has set the bar quite high for other fireworks shows.

“Can I still tout this as the best in the county?” asked Mr. Turner.

That remains to be seen. Stars & Stripes III again drew rave reviews on social media.

“For large displays like this you try and keep it around 15-18 minute timeframe,” said Aaron Jackson, owner of Brothers Pyro LLC based in Bridgeville. “People start to lose focus or interest past 18 minutes. We like to have a good fast start and kind of a steady pace through the body. I’m proud of what we do with our fake finales. People feel like the show is done, and we just keep it going. We really have a good fake finale and go right into a true finale.”

James Taulbee, left, and Jamie Downs of Brothers Pyro wire fireworks to be placed on barges for launching as the pyrotechnic finale to Stars & Stripes. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

“Being that we are local we feel like we run our percentages to put more of a percentage into the product versus the overhead that some of the larger companies do have. We are able to play with that a lot better,” said Mr. Jackson. “For me, it’s still a hobby. I’m not worried about making millions where these other companies have to. We definitely put a lot of percentage into the explosives, the product.”

“A huge thanks to Millsboro Chamber for having us again this year,” Mr. Jackson stated on Facebook.

The three-hour community gathering component was punctuated by a brief shower, a few claps of distant thunder, a brilliant double rainbow and a surprisingly higher-than-normal high tide.

Coupled with strong wind that apparently pushed water up the Indian River from the inlet, high tide caused a minor overflow along vendor alley. Several vendors were moved to higher dry ground while several others literally “waded” it out.

“Everything went pretty well. Of course, with any event you can expect a few hick-ups. The fireworks went off, so we can consider that a successful night,” Mr. Turner said. “That (high tide) was one of the hick-ups. The only other hiccup was that small shower that passed through. We were under that threat of a severe thunderstorm but luckily that was all we had to go through, that one shower and then we had a double rainbow.”

In addition to those at Cupola Park, fireworks were viewed from numerous other vantage points, including Del. 24, house parties throughout town, street corners and the Indian River for those on small boats and vessels.

“A lot of people don’t want to go to the beach and deal the headaches of the traffic and the out-of-towners,” said Mr. Turner. “They want to come where they can sit and enjoy it and go about their night.”

Besides food vendors, the community celebration featured craft vendors, informational tables and booths and disc jockey entertainment from DJ Messy Marv.

Stars and Stripes is the Greater Millsboro Chamber’s single mega-event of the year.

This year, the chamber received huge sponsorship support from numerous businesses and organizations, topped by the town of Millsboro and Mountaire Farms — the two Firecracker-level sponsors.

“We were blessed with sponsors this year,” said Mr. Turner. “We had a lot more this year than we did for the last two. I really think this is catching on for a good community cause with a lot of the local businesses.”

Mr. Turner applauded the work of the Millsboro Police Department, tasked with public safety and traffic flow.

“The police, they are on the ball. Part of the strategic plan was traffic flow,” Mr. Turner said. “They learned from the first year and they learned from the second year. They had their homework all done and they were ready to rock and roll.”

Downstate Fourth of July Events

Several Delaware municipalities are hosting events for Independence Day this week. The following activities are schedule:

Tonight

•Bethany Beach: The parade goes from noon to 3 p.m., featuring a variety of floats, bands and organizations. A concert at 7:30 p.m. by Jimi Smooth and Hit Time kicks of at the bandstand followed by fireworks at dusk.

For details, visit townofbethanybeach.com.

•Dewey Beach: Fireworks will be launched at 9 p.m. from the beach and will be seen all up and down the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk and shoreline.

•Dover: Fireworks, begins at dusk on Legislative Mall and is set to this year’s musical theme: “Coming To America” In case of rain or high winds, fireworks will be rescheduled for Saturday.

First State Heritage Park sites will be open all day with special events. Activities on Legislative Mall start at 5 p.m. American Legion parade starts at 6 p.m. on State Street.

Visit Dover4thofJuly.com for more information.

• Laurel: From 4 to 8 p.m. around Market Square Park, there will be a parade, live music, vendors, a petting zoo, a clown, a car and truck show, and a Little Miss Independence Pageant (ages 4-7 years old) followed by fireworks at dusk.

The rain date for fireworks will be Friday.

Visit TownofLaurel.net for more information.

Lewes: Children’s activities will start at 9 a.m. on Second Street, followed by the boat parade on the canal at 2 p.m., the Doo Dah parade around town at 5 p.m., and then fireworks at night.

Information on festivities, including times, parking information, road closures and detours can be found at www.leweschamber.com,

• Middletown: Fireworks at dusk/dark at Silver Lake Park. Rain date Friday. Visit MiddletownDE.org for more information.

•Milford: The First Presbyterian Church of Milford will be playing patriotic music on its carillon starting at noon.

Millsboro: The 13th Annual Children’s Celebration and Parade will start at 10:30 a.m. at the labyrinth of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, located at the corner of State Street and Ellis Street.

Following a brief ceremony which will feature the voice of Sussex County’s own Cathy Gorman, children dressed in patriotic colors and costumes will parade on the church grounds to the Parish Hall. Each will receive a special gift for participating.

There’s also a free lunch of grilled hot dogs, chips, desserts and beverages.

In case of rain, the celebration and parade will be held in St. Mark’s Parish Hall. For more information, contact Gale White at 644-0777.

• Smyrna/Clayton: The day starts with a parade through Clayton starting at 9:30 a.m., kicking off at Clayton Elementary School.

A Fourth of July Baby Contest at North Smyrna Elementary School starts at noon.

A fireworks display begins after dusk at the Little League Park on Duck Creek Parkway. For more information call 302-653-6235.

Friday

Dover Downs Hotel and Casino will feature a free fireworks display for the first time.

WDSD-FM will be on-site from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and will be giving away Six Flags America theme park tickets as well.

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