The volunteers who planned the Wake Forest Fourth of July celebration have apologized to critics who were unhappy with the fireworks display.
The fireworks company, S&W Productions, had said that the show could go on in the rain, said Rhonda Alderman, chair of the Wake Forest Fourth of July Planning Committee and a lifelong resident of the town. But when the expected 20 minutes of fireworks began on the night of July 3, the show ended after eight or nine minutes. The night’s concert went as planned, Alderman said, but she said she was “heartsick and very disappointed” about how the fireworks turned out.
“People came out and enjoyed (the concert), and then the fireworks started and before we knew it, it was over, and the committee was there looking at each other like, ‘What just happened?’” she said.
The curtailed Fireworks Spectacular also drew criticism online after it ended.
Comments on the event’s Facebook page included “Is that it??????” “What the heck happened?” and simply “Horrible!”
The committee issued an apology for the abbreviated display the weekend after the show, explaining how the weather conditions played a role, and noting that the beach music group The Band of Oz was booked through the week, so it could not have performed if the event was postponed.
The rain also thwarted a troupe of skydivers who were set to perform. Their plane was grounded in eastern North Carolina.
Some comments on the town Facebook page criticized the event moving from Heritage High School to Wake Forest High School. Alderman noted, though, that the event has been held at Wake Forest High School since the tradition began 40 years ago, and it was relocated to Heritage for three years while Wake was undergoing construction.
The Fourth of July Committee received $10,000 of its roughly $30,000 budget from the town of Wake Forest, an increase from its $4,000 in recent years, Alderman said. The rest of the funding comes from sponsorships from local businesses and the $5 ticket price. The work is done by volunteers independently from the town government.
The committee is still trying to “amicably” resolve the fireworks malfunction issue with the production company, Alderman said. She added that she hoped the mishap this year does not deter people from attending future celebrations.
Director of Parks and Recreation Ruben Wall did not work on the event, but he took his children to see the show. He said they enjoyed it.
“The band played well, and (my kids) got to see some fireworks,” he said. “As long as my kids are happy, I don’t have any gripes.”