Peabody is primed for 4th weekend

After a rainstorm forced the rescheduling of the July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza in Peabody a year ago, organizers anticipate that this year?s 90th annual show will return on the designated day with ?enough pops, bangs and booms to make Francis Scott Key stand up and start singing.?

Preston Hodges and wife Lisa are co-coordinators of the celebration weekend, which begins Saturday and culminates Mon?day night with what traditionally is the largest ground-display fireworks in the state of Kansas.

?It?s one of the things Pea?body?s really proud of,? said Hodges, who is co-leading the team of around 30 volunteers for the second year.

In fact, it was Hodges? boyhood memories of the weekend that prompted to get involved through the years.

?I grew up about six blocks from the park and there were cars parked up and down the street all over town,? he said. ?When I was little, we got more people to come to town than we do now. The town was just packed with cars and people.?

Attendance for the fireworks show was down a bit last year because of the need to reschedule, but Hodges estimated the event draws around 3,000 people each year to Peabody City Park.

?If we can get 3,000 to 5,000 people to sit on the football field for an hour and each of them donate $3 for a button, it?s a success,? he said. ?The money we raise goes to next year?s fireworks. The fireworks we?re setting up this year were paid by last year?s sponsorships. Businesses donate money, but button sales produce the majority of our money.?

The budget is a little tighter this year because of last year?s rescheduling, but the show itself will be as big as ever, he said.

?Our fireworks are kind of unique in the fact that we do a lot of ground set pieces,? he added. ?There are designs we make with what are called lances?they?re kind of colored sparklers. They form pictures.?

Popular ground displays returning this year include the Statue of Liberty and sports team mascots such as the Peabody-Burns Warrior, the Kansas State Wildcat and the Kansas University Jayhawk.

?It breaks it up,? Hodges said of the displays. ?We?re not always watching stuff blow up in the sky. We?ll do one on the ground and, while it?s burning, we shoot one off in the sky. The announcer does a description and it goes along with music.

?We?re going to have 16 or 17 different ground displays, including the finale,? he said. ?We recycle them from year to year, but we also built some new ones for this year.

The show?s grand finale is the ?Battle of New Orleans,? which Hodges described as ?a lot of stuff going off at the same time.?

?The show lasts about an hour, but it doesn?t feel like it?s that long,? he added.

Another unique thing about the Peabody show is that it?s planned and executed entirely by local volunteers.

?We don?t hire a fireworks company to come in and do this,? Hodges said. ?The people who set it off have gotten their licenses and schooling.?

Weekend events

The weekend celebration actually begins 8 a.m. Saturday with the Doyle Valley Farmer?s Market in the downtown Santa Fe Park. It runs through noon.

Hodges said he is excited that the city again will offer a carnival at the city park all weekend long after an absence of five years or so.

?It?s a big carnival,? he said. ?D&J Shows out of Dodge City will be bringing 10 to 12 rides. The park should be hopping all weekend.?

In the evening, the Callahan Band will perform at the Pea?body American Legion from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. with a ticket price of $5 per person. Patrons must be 21 or older.

On Sunday, the flea market returns to Peabody City Park and will continue through Monday.

At 9 p.m. Sunday, the annual Pea?body-Burns High School alumni dance begins at the American Legion. Admission is $5 and parons must be at least 21.

Monday kicks off with a salute at 6 a.m., followed by a horseshoe tournament at 8 a.m. and a Peabody Library yard and book sale from 9 a.m. to noon.

Another popular event is the ?Car Show, Bike Show & Motor Blow,? which begins at 10 a.m. at Santa Fe Park. The ?motor blow? may be the most unique aspect of the event.

?They have a little car and they drain the oil out of it,? Hodges said. ?They sell tickets and you have to guess how long the motor will run before it blows. You can hear it all over town just screaming.?

Other events include a dog show at 11 a.m., free swimming at the Peabody City Pool, and the Bob Phillips Memorial Poker Tournament that begins at noon.

The annual parade begins downtown at 5 p.m. and is described as ?a massive tribute to celebrate the birth of a nation.?

This year, organizers are offering a total of $600 in prizes for the top three ?Best Float? entries. Prizes will be paid in Peabody Bucks, which can be spent at any Peabody business.

The parade theme is ?Old Glory,? a tribute to the American flag. Parade participants do not need to register ahead of time, but need only arrive at the Peabody-Burns High School, 810 N. Sycamore, to register.

Parade lineup will begin at 4 p.m., with the parade beginning promptly at 5 p.m.

More information about Peabody?s July 4th weekend can be found at peabodyks.com.

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