And they can thank the generosity, goodwill and community-mindedness of Mount Olive Ministries and Larry Hill Ford for the opportunity.
For the few who haven’t heard, these longtime partners who keep putting the “home” in “hometown” have rescheduled the rained-out Fourth of July fireworks display for Friday night at each of the local high school games — at Cleveland High School’s Benny Monroe Stadium/Raider Field where the Blue Raiders will play host to Soddy-Daisy and at Bradley Central High School’s Bear Stadium where the young men in black and gold will host their crosstown rivals from Walker Valley High School.
The fireworks displays will double as a special gift to football fans attending the games, as well as to the community. Those inside the stadiums can keep their seats once the final horn has sounded. Those who don’t routinely turn out for the games of “Friday Night Lights” can still find a parking space somewhere nearby either stadium and enjoy the exciting fireworks shows.
After the disappointing weather pattern that flash-flooded much of Bradley County and forced Fourth of July fireworks organizers to postpone — but not cancel — the shows, Mount Olive Ministries and the local Ford dealership committed to holding the popular display on another date.
Original plans had been sometime in August in conjunction with another community event. They settled on the most appropriate of occasions — Friday night football in mid-September when all three Bradley County high school teams will be on local turf.
Pastor James Sears, who serves as Mount Olive Ministries senior associate, explained the importance of keeping with tradition and giving area residents an annual treat to which they have grown accustomed for almost two decades.
In an interview with our newspaper, which was published on the front page of last Sunday’s edition, Pastor Sears told Managing Editor David Davis, “We wanted to do a family-friendly event. Each show will have 525 shells. The two shows combined will be larger than the Fourth of July show, because Larry Hill wanted to give something great to the community. What better way to do that than a tailgate party after the game? It will be a great event for the family.”
Mount Olive Ministries has been hosting Fourth of July holiday fireworks shows for 19 years. To break such a longstanding tradition solely because Mother Nature wrung out a few clouds like a soaking dish rag on just the wrong night would have been a heartbreak for many.
Hence, the reason Mount Olive and Larry Hill put their heads together to develop Plan B. Not only was strategizing this backup important to their hometown, it was just as critical to provide the same quality that fireworks enthusiasts have enjoyed for so many years.
It is no secret among regular goers of this holiday tradition that the Mount Olive and Larry Hill Ford showcase has grown bigger and better by each successive year. The same can be said of a sister fireworks display provided across town on the same night on Highway 64 — the Howard Thompson celebration that was hosted this year by state Rep. Eric Watson.
In spite of the rains, the Highway 64 extravaganza stayed with its schedule, but Mount Olive organizers feared the inclement weather would discourage too many holiday revelers from attending their event.
Both decisions were commendable.
But now, Cleveland and Bradley County residents get a second dose of fireworks — thanks to Rep. Watson weathering the storm on July Fourth, and Mount Olive’s and Larry Hill’s commitment to give the community what they promised.
We hope folks enjoy Friday night’s shows whether they view them from Raider Field or Bear Stadium.
And for the record, go Bears, Mustangs and Blue Raiders!