The most challenging economic challenges in 80 years may have changed the way Americans are living, but in Edgecombe County, anyway, they're not bringing change to the way America's birthday is celebrated. On my drive home the other day, I heard a story on NPR about the struggles in Lowell, Mass. to put on a fireworks display. As I recall, the city was able to still plan fireworks, but only after some private contributions came in.
The people of Edgecombe County may have experienced rising unemployment and other struggles because of this recession, but on Saturday night, they'll still experience the crackles and booms and cascades of colors from the sky the way they always do. Edgecombe typically has two large fireworks shows for the 4th of July: one in Tarboro, the county seat and another in Macclesfield, a small community in the southeastern part of the county.
About 200 folks usually turn out for the fireworks display in Macclesfield and this year, they shouldn't expect to see any major cutbacks, town leaders say. The show in Macclesfield is financed with private donations and enough of them have come in this year to still put on a good show.
The fireworks display in Tarboro is a larger affair, with a crowd of about 3000 filling the parking lot at Tarboro High School and the Parkhill Mall to take in the Independence Day extravaganza. The city of Tarboro is paying about $3500 less for fireworks this year, but fireworks organizers say the quality of the show will be even better. Last year, Tarboro paid about $10,000 for its fireworks display, but the city changed pyrotechnics providers and got a better deal--$6500. The new fireworks facilitators have promised a show in Tarboro that will surpass the previous years' offerings.
Hard times have certainly been a part of life in Edgecombe County, but thankfully, as painful as these economic struggles have been, the party will go on Saturday night. And, at least for a day, there will be something for everyone to celebrate.
By Rob Holliday, Producer-Reporter, UNC-TV