As the sun went down on the Fourth of July Wednesday, people of all ages grabbed their lawn chairs to get a front row seat to the one of the largest fireworks displays in the Tyler area.
The Tyler Jaycees' 49th annual Fireworks Extravaganza ended with a bang to celebrate Independence Day at Lindsey Park.
“It's to give people a safe environment and a place to come to on the Fourth,” Ash Downing, former president of the Tyler Jaycees, said. “It gives us something family-friendly to do.”
Dennis Waller, 53, of Tyler, attended the extravaganza in the past but came this year to watch his granddaughter perform with the group.
“It's family time. It's just being around them,” he said. “There's not too many times that we can get together, and the Fourth is one of those times.”
While he enjoys the good time with his family and the celebrations of the evening, Waller appreciates the fortune of living in a free country and having the ability to celebrate it.
“We're so lucky to live in a country like this,” he said. “It's a day to let the world know what we've accomplished.”
“This is my way of giving back to the community,” she said. “It's our gift to the community in celebration of our freedom.”
They expected about 5,000 to 7,000 attendees to show up to see the final fireworks show. The park was secured by Tyler Police Department, who controlled the heavy traffic flow in and out of the gates and to protect the intended family environment.
The grounds steadily filled up with more and more people waiting to see the main event—the fireworks spectacular. Jay Butcher, past president of the Tyler Jaycees, has been in charge of the fireworks arrangements for a few years.
After a seven-hour setup on the grounds, the fireworks are electronically set to fire with the use of squibs — miniature explosive devices set to ignite the fireworks at the right time.
“We electronically fire them off so they don't just all go off at one time,” he said.
With all the work and effort of running the day's events, Downing still takes time to remember the reason to celebrate America's independence.
“It's a time to think about the people who have died for our country and allows us to celebrate freedom,” he said.