Red, White & BOOM! festivities a big hit, eventually
Every year it seems, rain plays a big part in what happens at the annual Red, White & BOOM! celebration in downtown Cape Coral.
And every year, people just keep on coming.
About 30,000 people turned out for the annual fun, music and fireworks, even though many had to retreat to their cars (or anywhere else dry) around 7:30 p.m. when the downpours, that seemed to stay to the east for a while, finally came through.
The event actually started just after dawn with the annual 5K run on the Cape Coral Bridge. From there, the city got the stage ready and the dozens of vendors set up shop on their end on Cape Coral Parkway.
For the kids, they got an early start at Kids Patriot Park, where for 75 minutes, they could climb a 26-foot rock wall, bounce around in bounce house and slides, run an obstacle course and other fun stuff.
The vendors ran the gamut from food to non-profits, businesses and even politicians running for office. Among those setting up shop was the Kiwanis, which gave away books and stuffed animals to the kids with the help of Key Club members.
“We want children to read and to get off their devices. We’ve given away hundreds of books and animals and painted hundreds of faces,” said Ann Vaughn, Kiwanis vice president as the storm clouds made their way in. “It’s the Fourth of July and we should have a storm.”
The Kiwanis tent became the perfect place to stay dry once it started pouring.
Aris Garcia came with her husband, for her 14th Red, White & BOOM!, saying that rain has been an issue.
“It’s rained sometimes but never this bad. I love the fireworks, I come here every year for that,” Garcia said. “I haven’t had a chance to eat anything yet, but I will.”
Not everyone sought shelter. Howard Datz, who has also attended this event for years, sat near the stage with his wife and granddaughter as the rain pelted down. They just wanted a good seat.
“I have my poncho and I’m all bundled up and dry underneath it. Last year we left it got so bad and they did it anyway. We just decided to be better prepared this year with rain gear and if it happens, we’ll tough it out,” Datz said.
Dakota Johnson, 11, and her family found shelter in a tent.
“The Cape Jr. (Pop Warner) cheerleaders had a tent and that’s where we went. I cheer for them. We came for the fireworks ad the music,” Johnson said.
The live music on stage featured Neon Summer, Haley and Michaels and the headliners, LoCash, a Baltimore-based country act that come on an hour late because of the weather.
Of course, it was the fireworks that closed things out shortly after 10 p.m., which is what people came out for.
“I thought it was the best one yet. We found a place to stay dry, got something to eat and went to see the fireworks,” said Ed Konarski. “You know the rain is going to happen. You just hope it misses you.”
“I’ve never seen fireworks like this. We came out of the storm to see it. I would come again,” said Gens Wallasch, who came from Germany for a vacation and happened to learn of the event.
“It was beautiful. It was well organized. Everyone behaved, the bands were good. The best yet,” said Fernando Gomez, who has also made this an annual event. “I loved everything about it. God bless America.”