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.”