Fayette County

With Big Blue boost, Lexington's fireworks show could be visible all over the city

People watch the city Fourth of July fireworks display from a parking lot at Kroger Field.
People watch the city Fourth of July fireworks display from a parking lot at Kroger Field. aslitz@herald-leader.com

Anyone even remotely close to downtown Lexington Wednesday night will have a chance to join in what could be a lasting, local Fourth of July tradition.

The Downtown Lexington Partnership will present a 15 minute fireworks display shot off of the 31-story, 410-foot Lexington Financial Center — widely known as "the Big Blue Building" — at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

"It's a great community tradition where we come together to celebrate our nation's birth and what better gathering spot than the center of the city," said Terry Sweeney, president and CEO of the Downtown Lexington Partnership.

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Bicyclists watched the city’s Fourth of July fireworks display from a parking lot at Kroger Field in 2017. This year, the fireworks display will move back downtown. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

This is the first year the fireworks will be launched off of the Financial Center, but it is not the first time they've been shot off Lexington's tallest building.

According to previous Herald-Leader coverage, in 1984 and '85, the show was shot off Kincaid Tower — known to most as the Central Bank building — which at the time was Lexington's tallest building. The Financial Center opened in 1987. The city had to move the show after it could no longer afford the insurance costs.

Over the years, Lexington's main fireworks display has moved around the city, including the old home of University of Kentucky football, Stoll Field, and Masterson Station Park. In recent years, the show had been launched from property owned by RJ Corman, behind Rupp Arena, and then it got back to its UK football roots at Kroger Field (formerly Commonwealth Stadium) in 2016 and '17.

Launching from the Financial Center, chances are you'll be able to see the fireworks, if you're in Lexington. Sweeney said that the show should be visible in 98 percent of the county.

"But we want them to come downtown too," he added. "Come downtown, have fun, spend money."

WBVX-FM 92.1, known as "Classic Rock 92 One," will "program the fireworks to Americana music," Sweeney said. The music can be heard simply by tuning into the station, website or app when the fireworks are being launched.

Sweeney, previously a lifelong Indiana resident, said he got the idea of a high-rise launch site from another city just a few hours north of Lexington.

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Fireworks are set off from atop the Regions tower in downtown Indianapolis on July 4, 2014. Matt Kryger The Indianapolis Star

For as long as he can remember, Sweeney said the city of Indianapolis has shot its Fourth of July fireworks off one of Indy's tallest buildings.

"I thought we ought to be doing that here," said Sweeney, who added that he hopes the high rise downtown fireworks can become a long-term Lexington tradition.

Sweeney said there is little to no public safety concern, as the fireworks could hit altitudes close to 700 feet so any debris or ash should dissipate far before it hits the ground. Viewers can get as close to the building as they like, but Kyle Frizzell, the event coordinator, said that it's recommended that they stand at least two to three blocks away from the building to insure they get the best viewing experience.

Standing next to the building will not be a safety hazard but may result in a neck-straining — a too-close-to-the-movie-screen sort of experience.

Frizzell and Sweeney said that there are plenty of choice viewing locations downtown including Gratz Park, the Courthouse Plaza, Dudley's rooftop bar or any of the other local businesses that will be open.

There will be free parking in the Victorian Square Garage, Courthouse Garage and some spots in the garage attached to the police station on Main Street.

The fireworks are the grand finale of the city's downtown Fourth of July festivities which will begin Wednesday morning with the Bluegrass 10K. A full schedule of the events is available here.

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