Fireworks lure crowds in Newberry
Published: Monday, September 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 31, 2003 at 11:47 p.m.
NEWBERRY - Rocky Voglio's food is what usually draws the hordes to town, and the oohs and aahs once they've taken a bite.
But Sunday night it was his fireworks show that lured the masses and the applause. And it's a good bet that a lot of people who didn't go to the recreation center for the display still heard it.
Voglio is owner of Newberry Backyard Bar-B-Q, a restaurant so popular it creates traffic jams from the Friday night dinner crowd.
To pay back customers he sponsored the sparkling display that lighted up Newberry, a jumbo chemical cocktail fired from a 12-inch shell - billed as "the loudest boom ever in North Florida." Most professional shows use 6- or 8-inch shells.
"This is our fourth year. These are the best fireworks around. It comes close to St. Augustine and is definitely better than the Gainesville (July 4) fireworks," said Wendy Sheehan of Gainesville, tailgating on root beer and coffee cake with her husband Brian. "It's amazing how many people this draws. It wasn't this big four years ago."
Added her newfound friend Dell Bowman, also of Gainesville, "It's amazing. It's like a football game."
Voglio has staged pyrotechnics in Newberry for the last six Labor Days - not a holiday usually associated with fireworks.
He said the displays are a way of giving back to the community. The show took on a patriotic theme this year - starting with a thunderous volley from one of the 12-inch shells and a red, white and blue burst of illumination in the shape of a flag.
"It was hard to top last year, but I think we'll do it," Voglio said. "We've had a good year at the restaurant. This is the 'thank you' for that."
No one was sure how many people attended, but the recreation center grounds were jammed with cars. Vehicles lined U.S. 27 for at least a mile.
Lora Holt of Newberry is a regular. As she reclined in her lawn chair waiting for the show, reading "Mysteries of the Unexplained," she savored the scene - friends socializing, kids running all over, barbecue cooking.
"We're proud of our fireworks. It's just a great community event," she said.
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