July 4 will feature fireworks and a lot more in Wooster

July 4 will feature fireworks and a lot more in Wooster

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As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, city of Wooster residents know they don’t have to go very far to see one of the most elaborate fireworks displays in the state of Ohio.

The City of Wooster’s Independence Day celebration will be held again this year at Kinney Field on July 4, and those planning to attend should expect to see an even bigger and better display of lights in the sky than last year’s show. And of course, there will be several hours of fun-filled family activates leading up to the spectacular show.

“Since the event is not an all-day event and starts at 6 p.m. and lasts until the fireworks begin at 10 p.m., I have food vendors, stage entertainment and kid’s outdoor toys, including a bounce house and slides,” said Gil Ning, president of the Wooster Fireworks Association. “We have a great location with a 360-degree viewing area and no obstructions. The fireworks can be seen easily in the surrounding areas as well, including both Buehler’s and Wooster High School’s parking lots. It also meets the 600-foot radius requirement for the size of the fireworks we are shooting.”

People come from across the county and beyond to view Wooster’s sparklers in the sky, which are always displayed on the actual Fourth of July holiday. Wooster’s show is so intense that the firework’s association actually sets off a unique sort of sparkler called a fireball, similar to gasoline explosions on the ground that require a special license to fire. Ning said last year, many spectators believed that a mishap took place but in fact, the entire episode was all part of the show.

City of Wooster’s Recreation Manager Ashley Hershberger was one of those viewers who thought that maybe something had gone awry when the fireball was released, and she is part of the fireworks planning committee, working behind the scenes by ensuring that all emergency and safety announcements or event updates prior to, during or after the event are posted on social media and the city of Wooster’s website.

“My friend and City Recreation Supervisor, Alexis Gunn, and I were at a friend’s house a few streets down from the complex watching the show with our families — it was phenomenal,” Hersberger explained. “The finale was amazing; the kids and adults were all so impressed and then ... the huge fireball went off. In an instant our “mom modes” kicked into high gear and we were both on our phones reaching out to the event administrators making sure everyone was OK. Within seconds we were assured that it was on purpose and you could almost feel the smiles coming through the other end of the phone. We were able to quickly get word out on all social media platforms reassuring the public that it was indeed planned; all of the crew were safe and feeling great about the awesome finale they just pulled off.”

That sort of ending may just be in store again this year, because the Wooster Fireworks Committee always figures out how to make the display bigger and better year after year, thanks to the generous donations provided by local non-profit organizations, as well as individuals in the community.

“Fireworks are now provided to Wooster as a community service not funded by the City of Wooster,” Ning explained. “Wooster Fireworks, Inc. was established in 2001 as a nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation in order to provide fireworks to the City of Wooster for its annual Fourth of July celebration. The members of the Wooster Fireworks Inc. all work on a volunteer basis.”

He said this year’s fireworks event will cost a total of $20,000, covered completely through generous donations.

“There was $10,000 provided through the generosity of the Wooster Exchange Club,” he said. “The remainder of the money was donated by Wooster Rotary, local businesses and members of the community at large. Due to heightened security concerns, insurance costs have risen. Inflation has also resulted in a 5 percent increase in costs for the fireworks themselves. We have been able to negotiate a substantial reduction in costs, however in order to provide an equivalent display to 2021, the total cost of the 2022 celebration will be $20,000.”

Hershberger explained both the city and county work together and do a “remarkable job” in making sure the Fourth of July celebration in Wooster goes off without a hitch. There are many tasks that must be completed prior to the event: the county ensures the fields are mowed for the event; Ida Sue School provides access to water and facilities; city engineer’s office identifies the fire circle and safety zone; police provide patrols for safety at the event; fire department inspects the site before, during and after the event; utilities ensure water supply at hydrants; public properties maintenance provides power, barricades, clean up and more.

This year, Hershberger said, there will be slightly less police presence after the event, in regards to traffic control, but the Wooster Police Department will be on hand during the celebration, ensuring safety is being enforced.

“The Wooster Police Department will only be providing limited traffic control after the fireworks this year,” Hershberger said. “This is due to the fact that the ongoing construction on the expressway will not permit us to funnel traffic away from the grounds like we have in the past. Nevertheless, we will still have multiple officers at Kinney Field to help keep everyone safe. Please be patient, expect delays, and follow all traffic control devices.”

The Wooster Fourth of July celebration is free and open to the public. Any updates on the day of the event can be found by visiting the city of Wooster’s website at www.woosteroh.com and also by following the city’s social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Anyone interested in helping to support this event is encouraged to make checks payable to the “Wooster Fireworks Fund” and mail them to P.O. Box 1424, Wooster, Ohio 44691.