Fireworks light up the Scotia night, brighten spirits (with photo gallery, video)
Holiday celebration highlights recovery from flooding
SCOTIA When the sun was still high in the sky on Friday afternoon, almost every inch of available real estate along the Mohawk River next to the Western Gateway Bridge and Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In was filled with people waiting for fireworks that were still hours away.
Ray Gawlak, of Tribes Hill, arrived later than normal for the 9:30 p.m. fireworks, but still had his spot near the river marked out about four hours before the main event. A regular visitor to the Scotia fireworks, the setup for his family included a collapsible chair and a blanket.
“You do it a couple years and you get it figured out,” he said, sitting comfortably in his chair while his wife sat behind him on a blanket and his 6-year-old son, Colin, played with a friend.
Many people had similar spreads, as the riverfront grass was covered with blankets and chairs. Moving back from the river, people filled the adjacent Freedom Park, with a more sparse crowd on the baseball fields further back. Jumpin’ Jack’s was also packed, with lines for food dwarfing even those of the annual opening day crowd.
As people waited for the fireworks to begin, there was a performance by the U.S. Water Ski Show Team and live music on the stage in the park, which featured a variety of upbeat tunes that prompted a few people to dance despite the heat.
Many children were amusing themselves by throwing small white snappers against hard surfaces, usually pavement and sometimes each other, with a unsettling crackle breaking the air with each solid contact. Other kids were content just to wander around with each other and be distracted by life, which was alright with Loren Webber, also of Tribes Hill, whose 6-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter were with her.
“It’s a good spot because you can let them run a for a little bit. You can see them, and it’s OK,” she said, while acknowledging that her daughter Reagan did need to be called back from the edge of the river a few times.
Webber said the event was a great way to celebrate Independence Day, which she was sharing with a student from Spain who is visiting for the month.
“We wanted to share what we do here on the Fourth of July,” she said.
It was also meaningful to share in the normalcy of the event, said Gawlak, who didn’t imagine the site would be hosting fireworks after it was ravaged by tropical storms Irene and Lee last summer. The flooding river picked up mud and debris and left it all along its banks, which didn’t seem to have many visible scars Friday.
There were some reminders, though, as the water ski team referenced the flooding in their request for funds.
“It’s good to be able to be here .... considering the devastation that was here last year,” Gawlak said. “You didn’t think it would be back to normal.”
But it was, which meant he got to continue a family tradition and see fireworks he compared favorably to any in the Capital Region.
“They’re the best ones around,” he said.