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Johnson County celebrates the Fourth of July

By Lacy Hilliard
Barbeques, family, and fireworks are as synonymous with an American Independence Day as the smell of evergreen on Christmas. On July 3, hundreds of Johnson County residents gathered in Ralph Stout Park (and every other suitable location) to take in the annual fireworks display.
The United States of America declared its independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1976. As the Revolutionary War waged on, representatives from the 13 original colonies (Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia) gathered together; this historical meeting resulted in the decision to officially declare independence from Great Britain after more than a year of conflict. The “Committee of Five,” charged with drafting the Declaration of Independence, consisted of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman. The committee convened on July 4 after more than a month of deliberation and the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was accepted forever into American history.
It was John Adams that said of July 4, “The day will be most memorable in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward, forevermore.” It was perhaps his reference of illuminations that gave birth to the original concept of Independence Day fireworks. It is said that fireworks date back as early as 10th Century China. The original Chinese firework was comprised of green bamboo chutes that were thrown into a fire. As the hollow chute dried and expanded, a small explosion and loud pop resulted. The exploding bamboo or pao chuk was said to be used at New Year celebrations as a way to ward off evil spirits. The Chinese worked to prefect this new found technology and eventually added a wide array of colors to their arsenal after the discovery of a primitive form of gunpowder that dates back to around 600-900 A.D. In 1292, the Italian explorer Marco Polo brought the fascinating technology back to his homeland after spending time in the orient. The discovery began an Italian obsession and most historians credit the artistry and intricacy of modern day fireworks to the discoveries made in Italy. The Italians also introduced the world to the first aerial shells –thus paving the way for today’s skyrocketing marvels.
This year’s sheer volume of fireworks enthusiasts gathered at Ralph Stout Park for the annual fireworks display is proof that our love affair with these colorful explosive spectacles is still going strong. Unless you arrived at least two hours prior to the start of the show, you had no hope of obtaining a parking space anywhere near the park. Spectators young and old watched in awe as green, red, purple, blue, gold, silver, and orange bursts crackled, illuminating the surrounding mountains and complimenting the full moon. The display was well organized, colorful, and of course, loud. The grand finale concluded the show with a literal bang as golden bursts left the crowd with ringing ears and exhilarated eyes.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.