The sun that hadn’t shown most of the day became visible just before sunset over Commonwealth Stadium, where dedicated fans of fireworks started to gather about 8 p.m. Monday.
The fireworks, traditionally held in downtown Lexington, were in a new location this year with parking available around the stadium and the firing site located in the middle of a no-access zone along Alumni Drive.
Mark Poage thought he’d find a big empty parking lot when he pulled his truck in around 8 p.m., early enough to get in the front row facing the firing zone, but he was not the first to arrive.
Poage, his wife, Jennifer, and friends were familiar with the Blue Lot because of their dedication to the Kentucky Wildcats and tailgating.
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“This guy,” said Poage’s friend Andrew Isaacs, “throws a great tailgate with four or five big screen TVs.” And, Isaacs mentioned, plenty of beer. Monday’s efforts were on a smaller scale, just a small tent and a cooler with some adult beverages. Both Poage and Isaacs said they liked the new location; it was easy to get to and there was room to spread out.
Isaac’s daughter, Jamie, 13, was excited for the fireworks. The Fourth of July, she said, was he second favorite holiday after Christmas. Another member of the party looked less enthusiastic. At seven months, Harley, a mixed pup with the look of a poodle, would be experiencing her first fireworks.
The crowds might have been smaller than expected because of the light, steady drizzle and the low, dark clouds, but traffic rolled through smoothly both from Nicholasville Road and down Alumni Drive. Earlier in the day, a rain-soaked parade had taken over Main Street.
Most of the Blue Lot was filled by 9 p.m. in anticipation of the 10 p.m. show, but there were plenty of spaces available nearby and police officers at nearly every intersection in case of any kind of hitch. The shuttle buses designed to take people from downtown to the stadium didn’t seem to be doing much business.
Emily Hobbs came to celebrate her dad Stan McGrew’s 63rd birthday. Hobbs said she lives just beyond The Arboretum, meaning easy access for the festival that is usually downtown. “Better for me,” she said with a smile.
She was grateful for the prime viewing space near parking as her daughter was sleeping in the car a few feet away.
Zack and Eveth Camp made a patriotic statement with a Betsy Ross Flag, 13 stars and 13 stripes, billowing from the back of their black Ford pickup truck. They moved a few years ago to Kentucky from Texas and weren’t going to let a little rain dampen their Fourth of July.
If the rain got worse? “We’ve got an umbrella,” Zack Camp said.
Central Kentucky communities, including Bourbon and Woodford counties, called off their fireworks shows by late afternoon, rescheduling for hopefully drier days later in the week.
Renee Shepard, executive director of the Downtown Lexington Corporation, which organized the Lexington’s Fourth of July Celebration, said officials watched the weather radar carefully and were assured by the fireworks professionals that the show could proceed safely Monday night.
- Bourbon County/Paris: 9:30 p.m., July 9
- Franklin County: 7 p.m., July 5 Capitol View Park
- Harrodsburg: July 8, Anderson Dean Park
- Lawrenceburg/Anderson County: July 9
- Mercer County: July 8
- Versailles: 6 p.m. July 5, Woodford County Park