2011-07-05 / Front Page

Fireworks delight hundreds in OOB

By ERIN SULLIVAN
Special to the Journal Tribune

Fireworks explode over Old Orchard Beach Monday night in celebration of Independence Day. (Erin Sullivan/ Journal Tribune)

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — An early evening rainstorm wasn't enough to stop spectators from flocking to Old Orchard Beach Monday night for the annual Fourth of July fireworks display.

Crowds of people filled the town square and lined the streets downtown to get a good view of the show. While many chose to watch the fireworks from a distance in Memorial Park, hundreds braved the square and the beach itself to watch the show up close.

Those who were working down at the beach, many of whom were sporting festive red, white and blue items of clothing, were kept busy throughout the night. Almost all were rewarded with a brief break from the crowds during the fireworks display itself, which began promptly at 9:45 p.m.

The fireworks were noticeably longer than the usual Thursday night displays, with a grand finale that had nearly everyone in downtown Old Orchard cheering.

The flashy display was the culmination of Fourth of July weekend festivities at the beachside town that included a sandcastle contest, a bicycle decorating contest and a parade. Earlier in the evening, the Ocean Park Association marked its 15th year of sponsoring Independence Day dancing in the street.

The event began at 7:30 p.m., the crowd seeming to grow every minute until the entire street in front of the Soda Fountain was packed with people eager to dance.

Under the cheerful direction of Ray Hilton, who began the night expertly dancing with his own partner, Eleanor Pickett, crowds of people were talked through multiple forms of dancing. Types of dances taught included more recent additions like the cha-cha slide, YMCA and the chicken dance, while the classic staples of line dancing and square dancing were featured heavily. While some chose to sit on the sidelines and watch rather than join in, there was no shortage of people literally dancing in the street.

According to Pickett, who has done this event for years, the dancing always seems to draw a great crowd.

“This is a good group,” stated Pickett, gesturing to the large circle of people in front of her. “They're so cooperative; they really want to dance.”

Dancers ranged in age from the older crowd to infants, whose mothers and fathers carried and spun them and moved their feet to the music.

— Erin Sullivan is an intern with the Journal Tribune and a student at Assumption College.

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