Rains don't spoil the fireworks

Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 10:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at 10:54 p.m.

You don't have to be an American to celebrate Independence Day, as was evident at Wednesday night's Fanfares and Fireworks festivities.

The University of Florida, where the event was held, is the academic home to a lot of students from other countries and many of them were at Flavet Field to enjoy the music and fireworks.

Among them were Anudeep Kurudi and Rahul Koneru, who are experiencing their first Fourth of July with several other friends from India.

"We just know it is Independence Day. We want to celebrate the way local people do," Kurudi said. "We have a festival in India with fireworks, a religious festival. We want to see what this is like."

The fireworks were in jeopardy as rain moved in about an hour into the event, which kicked off at 7 p.m. and continued off and on until the fireworks were ignited about 9:40 p.m.

It's believed that the first fireworks were created in China around 200 B.C. with the discovery of gunpowder.

So UF microbiology student Yezhang Ding and his wife, Donglan Chen, who came to Fanfares and Fireworks with their toddler daughter Rebecca Ding, said they have seen some spectacular shows in their native China.

"Last year we came here and watched the fireworks. They were very good," he said. "We have fireworks on our national holiday. We have lots of festivals with fireworks."

The evening also featured music by Richy Stano and Mindwalk, Mark Gaignard and the Barstool Prophets and the Gainesville Community band, along with patriotic speeches by local dignitaries.

Gainesville Regional Utilities was flying a 50-foot-by-30-foot flag hung from two cranes, which despite its size was waving in the breeze created by the incoming rainstorm.

Officials said the crowd was good even with the threat of rain, with people spread out on blankets across the expansive field munching on picnic food, pizza and — what would a crowd-drawing event be without them? — funnel cakes.

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