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Town of Marana's 4th of July Fireworks Celebration
The Fireworks Begin
A Traditional Small Town Celebration with Fireworks
Parks, picnics, watermelon and fireworks are what come to mind when people think about celebrating the Fourth of July holiday. This year we celebrated this holiday as we usually do by relaxing in our air conditioned home, thereby avoiding the 100+ degree heat that is the typical summer temperature in Southern Arizona. Of course it cools off somewhat in the evening and, as there are fireworks displays all around the area, we made plans to head out in the evening.
Rather than fighting the traffic and crowds, as we have in the past, by driving to downtown Tucson for the big display at 'A' Mountain, we decided to try the celebration in Marana, the northern suburb next door. They have a big celebration at Ora Mae Harn Park beginning at six in the evening and culminating with fireworks at nine. It promised to be a fun evening with music, booths selling food, and other entertainment. However, my son had to work and was late leaving work so we weren't able to leave until after seven. The drive was short and the traffic, despite the large number of people heading there for the fireworks, wasn't that bad.
Nature Adds to the Display with a Flash of Lighening
Fireworks with Band Playing John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" in Background
More Fireworks and Lightning
Lightning Added to the Fireworks Spectacle
Summertime in Southern Arizona is the monsoon season. As the hot summer air passes over the Gulf of California south of Yuma, Arizona it becomes saturated with moisture which condenses as it rises and hits the cooler upper air. As this moisture saturated air makes its way eastward across the continent it encounters a barrier in the form of the mountains of Southern Arizona. Unable to continue its eastward trip, it releases its moisture in the form of short, intense downpours accompanied by spectacular lightning displays. Since the storms usually rain down on small areas, it is not uncommon for the rain to be limited to a few neighborhoods with many areas not receiving a drop of rain all summer. But the clouds and lightning cover the entire area.
This was the case with this evening's storm. As we headed out large patches of sky were covered with dark thunder clouds which were especially intense to the south. In fact the cloud cover and dark haze over the center of Tucson was such that they appeared to be having a major storm directly over the area where their fireworks display was to take place within the next couple of hours. Yet the area where we live and Marana to our north didn't look that bad, so we continued.
As we approached the park, traffic slowed and the long line of red taillights ahead took the form of a large snake making its way into the parking lot. A large flashing traffic sign announced a $5 parking fee. After pulling out my wallet and getting ready to pay the fee I heard the police who were directing people into the parking area telling people that the fee had been canceled and there was no longer a charge for parking. Arriving late can have its advantages.
We soon learned that the elimination of the parking fee was a result of a change in the evening's schedule. As we pulled into our parking spot we heard an announcer on a loudspeaker apologizing and saying that, at the order of the Fire Marshall, the fireworks would be starting in a couple of minutes, at 8 pm rather than the 9 pm scheduled time. Given that the wind had picked up considerably and flashes of lightning were lighting up the night sky, there was justification for worrying about fire. But more than likely, the real concern was a fear that a sudden heavy rainstorm could result injuries as the two to three thousand people at the event rushed toward the narrow park exits exits in an attempt to reach shelter in their cars.
After the Fireworks the Celebration Continued
While the anticipated storm never materialized, we were treated to a great fireworks display augmented with intermittent flashes of lighting. And, since the storm never materialized, the event, rather than ending after the fireworks (which should have been about 9:45) which, in this case, would have been early, it continued until about 9:45. Since about one third of the people left right after the fireworks, it was easier to make our way around the other activities following the fireworks, including getting a couple of free watermelons which were being handed out in one of the picnic pavilions.
Leaving a little after 9:00 as the event was breaking up, was not that difficult as the crowd had been steadily thinning since the end of the fireworks which made exiting the parking lot relatively easy.