Thousands packed David Clark Stadium on the campus of East Lincoln High School Saturday night, where they enjoyed food, fellowship and lots of music.
They also enjoyed the sixth annual Denver Area Business Associationâ€™s fireworks display.
Gates at the stadium opened around 6 p.m. with fireworks that started around 9:30 p.m.
East Lincoln resident Nikki Reynolds brought her daughter, 2-year-old Emilee, to the event.
It was Emileeâ€™s first fireworks display.
â€œI have friends that are out here to see the fireworks,â€ said Nikki Reynolds. â€œItâ€™s also my first time at the event.â€
The East Lincoln Community Chorus performed several patriotic songs leading up to the fireworks display.
East Lincoln firefighters were also on hand with the newest addition to their fleet, a Pierce ladder truck.
According to fire chief Tim Tench, firefighters affixed an American flag to the end of the truck and extended the ladder into the air immediately before the fireworks display began.
â€œThe truck cost nearly $697,000,â€ said Tench. â€œItâ€™s now in service to the community.â€
Denise Tucker attended the event with her family. It was the first time for them at the event.
She said many of the elements at Denverâ€™s celebration â€“ food, music, camaraderie â€“ reminded her of Oakboroâ€™s fireworks celebration.
â€œNormally, weâ€™d go there because thatâ€™s my hometown,â€ said Tucker. â€œWeâ€™re here this year, however, and this reminds me of a hometown celebration.â€
Andrew Johnson, main organizer of the event, said the event itself was a way for DABA to thank east Lincoln for their support.
The event, held the first Saturday of July so as not to conflict with the City of Lincolntonâ€™s July 4 celebration, drew about 5,000 people last year, and planners expected that number would be exceeded this year.
â€œWeâ€™re expecting at least 6,000 people to come out this year,â€ said Johnson.
He added the total investment â€“ fireworks and all â€“ is around $12,000. DABA was granted $3,000 by Lincoln County Commissioners for the display.
Johnson said the group expected to raise around $14,000 through the event.
â€œItâ€™s our gift back to east Lincoln,â€ said Johnson. â€œItâ€™s our way at DABA of saying thanks for the support.â€
New events this year to the annual gathering included a larger raffle drawing that included a gas grill and Bahamas cruise and more kids activities.
The Brailey familyâ€™s first stop when they arrived at the event was the rock climbing wall.
â€œMy 7-year-old, Sarah, ran to that first thing,â€ said Paul Brailey. â€œSheâ€™s had a lot of climbing experience.â€
Brailey said in the past, his family has left on vacation around the Fourth of July, coming home to watch the fireworks at Lake Norman.
Itâ€™s the third year his family has attended the DABA event.
While many vendors sold the usual event food â€“ funnel cakes, pizza, etc. â€“ one vendor got a lot of attention for an unusual creation: a frozen banana dipped in chocolate.
According to Bill Schuermeyer, the creation is called the Lincoln Square Chocolate Covered Frozen Banana.
â€œItâ€™s one of our groupâ€™s fundraisers to be able to continue to dance,â€ said Schuermeyer.
He added the recipe is simple: take a banana and cut off the ends. Peel, place a stick in one end and freeze then use special chocolate that hardens on contact.
The group sold the bananas at the event for $1 each.
â€œThe club meets on the first and third Fridays of the month at the Betty Ross Park,â€ said Schuermeyer. â€œIn the summer, we meet at the James Warren Citizens Center.â€
While many of the vendors at the event sold food and provided entertainment for the children. churches were also represented at the 2006 event.
Cornerstone brought in historical figure Davy Crockett in for pictures during the event — well, not the real Davy Crockett, of course, but church member Larry Turner as the legendary hero.
â€œIt wasnâ€™t hard to talk me into dressing like Davy Crockett,â€ said Turner. â€œOur church has been out here for about every one of these celebrations.â€
He said members of the church get together every year and brainstorm what is going to be done prior to the event.
â€œOf course, I volunteer,â€ laughed Turner.
Another church, located on the opposite side of East Lincolnâ€™s track, is coming to the Denver area.
The first service at Providence Church will be Sunday, Sept. 10, at the Lake Norman Gymnastics building across from Blackâ€™s Produce.
â€œThis is a daughter church out of Northside Baptist in Charlotte,â€ said Pastor Ben Rudolph. â€œSeven families from the church have come to start the new church.â€
Rudolph said the final two places to decide where to plant a church were Denver and the Mint Hill area, around the I-485 loop.
â€œI felt the growth in Denver was the deciding factor to come here,â€ said Rudolph. â€œThis area also is more of a reflection on my upbringing since Iâ€™m used to small towns.â€
According to 2006 DABA president Gary Caldwell, planning for the event in 2007 will start in January.
â€œThe first thing weâ€™ll do is hire a company to actually shoot the fireworks,â€ said Caldwell. â€œThen, after we get permission from Lincoln County leaders, weâ€™ll start the fundraising activities.â€
by Jon Mayhew