Community rallies to save annual Athens July 4 fireworks show

Community rallies to save annual Athens July 4 fireworks show

Posted:
"Great show. Big fireworks. I mean they're awesome," said Keith Clayton of Athens. "Great show. Big fireworks. I mean they're awesome," said Keith Clayton of Athens.
For the last 15 years, Athens has hosted one of the largest fireworks shows in East Tennessee. For the last 15 years, Athens has hosted one of the largest fireworks shows in East Tennessee.
"Everyone just expects it to be here because it's always been here," said Hurst. "Everyone just expects it to be here because it's always been here," said Hurst.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

ATHENS (WATE) - It looks like the massive annual July 4 fireworks show in Athens is now back on, all thanks to donations from the community.

For the last 15 years, Athens has hosted one of the largest fireworks shows in East Tennessee.

Last week the city announced the event was canceled, after the main sponsor dropped out.

But since the news broke, the community has rallied to save the show, donating thousands of dollars to make up that funding shortfall.

"This show means a lot to Athens," said Austin Fesmire, director of Athens Parks and Recreation Department, which organizes the show.

Local residents say July 4 just isn't complete in Athens without lighting up the sky with fireworks.

"Great show. Big fireworks. I mean they're awesome," said Keith Clayton of Athens.

More than 15,000 people turn out to watch the annual display. It's the largest event McMinn County hosts all year.

"I go every year with my family," said Amber Hurst of Athens.

That's why the Athens Parks and Rec was extremely disappointed when they had to cancel the show, after they couldn't come up with the $19,000 dollars needed to pay for it.

But they say over the last few days, dozens of local businesses and residents have pledged thousands to keep the show going.

"While we were sitting there talking about if we could do it or not, the phone started ringing," said Fesmire. "Some industries called and said we'd really like to help, let's see what we can do."

The show is a staple in the Athens community. The number of people who watch it every year is actually higher than the total population of Athens itself.

People who watch the show every July say the holiday just wouldn't be the same.

As of Sunday, the city has raised nearly all the money the need.

They have until June 16 to get the money to the fireworks company.

"I'm confident. When your phone rings that much and we people like an event this much. I'll be walking through the stores and people stop me and say hey we've got to get this done," said Fesmire.

Athens residents say they just couldn't imagine an Independence Day without the show.

"Everyone just expects it to be here because it's always been here," said Hurst.

That's why they've come together to save it. "That's what small town America is all about," said Fesmire.

"I'm glad they're bringing it back and letting us go watch the fireworks. I would hate to have to go out of town to watch some," said Clayton.

The company that runs the fireworks display, Pyroshows, is also stepping up to help make this year's show possible.

They've slashed the overall cost by nearly $5000.

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