Rain can't stop July 4 fun

Family Fun and Fireworks event a real blast

Tom Munds
Mallory Gore, 3, hooked a "fish" to earn a prize at the Grant Street Playground set up at Cornerstone Park as part of the July 4 Family Fun and Fireworks festivities. April McNorton and her family volunteer to set up the games and activities so children can have free activities to keep them occupied until the fireworks are set off after dark.
Tom Munds
Monica Patton hums and plays her guitar as she takes a break from the other activities at the July 4 Family Fun and Fireworks Event at Cornerstone and Belleview parks. She said she likes to be outside and just play her guitar for her own enjoyment and even occasionally write a song or two.
Tom Munds
The first group of parents and children are escorted to get an up close look at the AirLife helicopter that landed at Cornerstone Park as part of the Family Fun and Firework festivities. The helicopter was on the ground about an hour so all the people lined up and waiting could get to come out, visit with the crew and look inside the chopper.
Tom Munds
Sebastian Hutchison is snug and warm wrapped up in his dad's jacket when the July 4 rainstorms and wind made it a bit chilly at the July 4 Family Fun and Fireworks festivities at Cornerstone Park. The rain came and went, the weather turned warmer and the event went on as planned.
Tom Munds
The warn temperatures July 4 made the Sprayground very popular for children and adults who gathered at Cornerstone Park for the annual Family Fun and Fireworks event. The rains came about in the late afternoon but the weather cleared so the fireworks went on as planned.
Tom Munds
Once the rainstorms passed over, people returned to Cornerstone Park and set up their canopys as they waited for the July 4 fireworks display. The early afternoon rainstorms sent a number of families home but, by dusk, a patch of grass in the park was hard to find.
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A place to park and a spot to spread a blanket became hard to find in Cornerstone and Belleview parks, as is traditionally the case, when people gathered for the Family Fun and Fireworks event July 4.

The event resembled past years with a variety of activities during the day, a live band on stage in the early evening, and a finishing fireworks display after dark.

While a couple rainstorms swept through the area in the late afternoon, the skies eventually cleared. Volleyball games resumed, the attractions were blown up again and activities went on as scheduled.

Because so many people park in adjacent areas to watch the fireworks, crowd estimates are difficult. However, during the event, Police Cmdr. Gary Condreay said the crowd in the park looked a bit smaller this year, probably because of the rains.

This is the 19th year agencies and communities have joined together to put on a July 4 celebration which culminates with about a 20-minute fireworks display. For 2014, contributors and sponsors including Englewood, Littleton, South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, Sheridan, Centennial and Arapahoe County. This year, the Colorado Credit Union, Herbaly Exploration and Land Rover of Denver stepped up as private sponsors to help put on the event.

There was an array of paid inflatable attractions located in one area and April McNorton and her family set up the free Grant Street Playground in a nearby area.

“I have been volunteering with this event almost since it began. Since we live on Grant Street, my family and I decided to set up these free games and activities and call them the Grant Street Playground,” the Englewood resident said. “Maybe the inflatables are more fun for some kids but we wanted to have games like we used to do and that kids could do free.”

She works with other volunteer to set up wading pool as a “fishing tank” and another wading pool where kid tried to pick up marbles with their toes. Every child who took part in these or other Grant Street activities get a one of the small prizes donated by local merchants.

“Setting this up is a lot of work but it also is a lot of fun,” McNorton said. “We usually get here about noon to set up so we can open at 4 p.m. Like I said, it is a lot of work but I love it and I plan to keep on doing it as long as I am physically able to do it.”

A lot of people left the park when the rains came. Ryan Franklin rolled down the sides of his tent so he and the family could stay dry.

“We brought the tent for shade and to have an area where we could eat. It was a good thing today because it kept us out of the rain,” the Highlands Ranch man said. “We came because the kids really want to see the fireworks, I am sure the rain will blow over so we are staying put so we have a good place to watch the fireworks.”

Volunteers are important to the success of the event and one of the key volunteer agencies is the Arapahoe County Rescue Patrol.

The young men and women with the patrol are stationed at key locations to perform duties such as escorting pedestrians across busy Belleview Avenue or directing traffic into the parking areas.

Davis Connors is a captain with the patrol.

“This is my fifth year with the organization,” the recent Heritage High School graduate said. “I joined because I am interested in working with emergency service personnel like firefighters and police officers.”

He said he likes being part of the rescue patrol and it is fun to take part in events like the July 4 celebration.

“I will be going to Montana State University this fall,” he said. “I plan to major in criminal justice and I feel my volunteer work with the patrol will help me with my studies as I seek to prepare for a career in law enforcement.”

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