- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Baseball; apple pie; the colors red, white and blue; and fireworks will take center stage as Southern Maryland celebrates Independence Day today.
All across the tri-county area, events are being held to celebrate the country’s 238th birthday, and fireworks are a common theme in many of them.
Solomons Island will hold its annual display from the boardwalk at about 9:30 p.m. Barges will be set up in the Patuxent River, just south of the Thomas B. Johnson Memorial Bridge, which will give onlookers a front row view of the pyrotechnics.
“I think Solomons on the Patuxent River has quite possibly in our area the best location to display Fourth of July fireworks,” said Chris McNelis, the president of the Solomons Business Association. “You can sit in a strategic location in a bar or restaurant either inside or outside and view the fireworks. There’s plenty of space on the boardwalk and the pavilion and just a lot of spectator space here in Solomons.”
The Solomons Business Association also will invite 20 wounded warriors and their families for dinner and fireworks.
In St. Mary’s County, the Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department will hold its annual Independence Day celebration. There will be carnival rides ($5 for unlimited rides), games, an appearance by the Southern Maryland Super Heroes and fireworks. Franklin Square Band will perform 6 to 10 p.m.
The weekly River Concert Series will continue at St. Mary’s College of Maryland on July 4 and culminate with a fireworks display. The concert is a tribute to the Big Bands and include hits by Harry James, Bennie Goodman, Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey.
Dennis Point Marina will hold its annual Independence Day event all day July 4. There will be a golf cart parade, restaurant and deck specials, a moonbounce, carnival and vendors.
Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf will be the site of the Celebrate Charles: A Fun-Filled Fourth, which will begin 4:30 p.m. July 4.
Local businesses, artisans and food establishments will be showcased. There also will be a family fun zone, performances by John Luskey and Sam Grow and fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
A ticket is needed to attend that night’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs baseball game.
Over at Chapman State Park, enjoy games, music, hot dogs, chips, drinks and fireworks.
The town of Indian Head also will hold a fireworks display July 4. The day opens with an opening ceremony followed by amusements, rides and food vendors. Live entertainment will include DJ Rockin’ Roger.
La Plata is a good spot to start your prefireworks festivities as the town will hold its annual Watermelon Bash on July 4.
Another option is to head to Leonardtown for its Red, White and A Blues Jam on the Square during its monthly First Friday event 5 to 8 p.m. July 4.
Jam with Bob Schaller and Friends, restaurant specials, a book signing, art exhibit and farmers market.
Extend your celebration to July 6 with Sotterley Plantation’s Independence Day weekend with raffles, prizes, playground, concert, farmer’s market, food vendors, hayrides, kite flying, scarecrow making, a scavenger hunt, hiking trails and tours of the 1703 plantation house.
“Every year we love hosting an event to honor our country and those who serve it,” Nancy Easterling, the executive director of Sotterley Plantation, wrote in an email. “This year, our Star Spangled-Celebration has expanded to include more activities and fun things for the entire family, and we cannot wait to share Sotterley with our many guests.”
Fireworks can be a brief event — the Solomons display will be about 20 minutes in length — but take many months to plan. The Solomons event is being put on by Gaithersburg-based Digital Lightning.
“The fireworks have to be shot from the water, which means there has to be a floating platform, which requires a tugboat and a specific amount of square footage for ordnance to be set up,” said lead designer and Lusby resident Vince DiGiorgio, who is also a member of the SBA. “The Solomons show is electronically fired, which means each shell basically has to be connected to an electronic fuse, which is extremely labor-intensive and tedious.”
DiGiorgio, who choreographed the show on his computer, said it’s trade secret when to fire which type of firework but conceded the end of any show is the most important aspect.
“Sometimes what they do what is called a show opener where you just wake people up,” said DiGiorgio, who said he will lift close to 2,000 shells with a specially designed 12-volt console. “You want the grand finale to be the most exciting part of the show.”
First and foremost will be safety. A team of 10 will set up the display, and two people, including DiGiorgio, will remain on the barge — which must be anchored about 800 feet away from the boardwalk and occupied vessels — during the display. The pair will have also wear ear plugs, masks, cotton jumpsuits and personal flotation devices, and a licensed captain aboard a 23-foot SeaHawk will remain nearby in case a safety escape vessel is needed.
Fireworks are a staple of Independence Day festivities, but they are not cheap. The Solomons celebration costs $30,000 a year for the rental of the two barges ($5,000 each), insurance and expenditures. The SBA pays $20,000 of that thanks in part to revenue from the Plein Aire Festival and Taste of Solomons and Calvert County pays out $10,000. Digital Lightning helps by doing the show at cost.
“Every year the fireworks barely get paid for,” DiGiorgio said. “Everyone expects [fireworks on the Fourth], but no one really knows [how much it costs].”
“It’s a great way to show patriotism and to enjoy an evening event with family,” McNelis said.