As midsummer rolls around and the South Carolina sun approaches sidewalk-egg-frying hot, some of the season’s most cherished traditions come along as well. Helping beat the heat, or at least distract us, are ice-cream churning, peach picking, watermelon carving and, especially in early July, the fun of fireworks. Watching them soar into the sky and burst into bright, sparkly color is simply magical.
The first fireworks date back to second century B.C. in China. When bamboo was thrown into a fire, air trapped in the hollow sections of the plant would overheat and explode. The Chinese believed the resulting loud bang would ward off evil spirits. In later years, European rulers used fireworks on special occasions to light up their castles, Disney style. Today, fireworks mark celebrations of all sorts all over the world. Here in the United States, Independence Day is always celebrated with firework displays. Fortunately for Midlands dwellers, firework shows are easy to find.
Do-it-yourselfers might prefer to create their own fireworks show. It is fun to visit a local fireworks store and select a personal combination of bottle rockets, flying bees, magic lanterns, and sparklers. In consideration of pets and combat veterans, stores also offer no-noise fireworks that produce all the color quietly. DIY shows are allowed in all Columbia areas, although local ordinances should be consulted for designated quiet times. In some locations, fireworks fun must stop at 11 p.m., while in others it can go on until 1 a.m.
For those who would rather leave the booms and bangs to the professionals, the Midlands hosts several professional fireworks celebrations for Independence Day. One celebration begins at 7 p.m. Friday, July 2 with a two-hour free concert by the 246th United States Army Band at the Icehouse Amphitheater, 107 West Main St. in Lexington. The concert is followed by a fireworks display visible from area public parking lots, the town’s Main Street, Lexington Square Park, and the Lexington Veteran’s Memorial. The fireworks will be paired with music on 93.1 WZMJ.
Two venues combine fireworks with another quintessentially American pastime: baseball. The Lexington County Blowfish, a summer collegiate team, will have fireworks following their game versus the Spartanburgers Saturday, July 3 on Ballpark Road in Lexington. Combining fireworks with baseball and probably a hot dog or two, it is the perfect family event. The Blowfish will also have fireworks shows after its games July 16 and July 31.
Another popular venue combining fireworks and baseball is the Columbia Fireflies’ Segra Park. This year the Fireflies will be out of town July Fourth weekend and will have their Independence Day fireworks celebration a week early. However, they will also have fireworks July 10 and 24, Aug. 7 and 14, and Sept. 4 and 18. In the ball team’s absence, the South Carolina Philharmonic will provide a concert of patriotic music at Segra Park with a fireworks grand finale July 3 starting at 8:30 p.m.
Without question, the largest area Independence Day fireworks show can be found on Lake Murray Saturday, July 3. The celebration begins early, with a boat parade around Bomb Island at noon. Then, the fireworks show begins at 9:15 p.m., paired with music from radio station 97.5 WCOS. Those blessed with a boat can watch the show from the water. Landlubbers can watch from Dreher Island State Park or from homes along the shore.
Vivid color and heart-thumping bangs, layers of sparkly shapes and showers of shine, all of the beautiful displays are a fun, family-friendly way to spend an evening and celebrate Independence Day.