A sea of blankets and lawn chairs covered Clement Park as thousands waited for the night sky to be illuminated with fireworks on July 3.
The Foothills Park and Recreation District’s Red, White & You celebration drew a massive crowd looking to start the July Fourth holiday early. Despite some evening rain showers, the event drew an estimated 30,000-35,000 people.
The evening featured live music, kids games, food vendors and a 15-minute-long fireworks display that capped the night’s entertainment.
“I’ve never been to this show. I didn’t know it would be this packed,” said Cecilia Thompson, a South Jeffco resident. “I didn’t work tomorrow, so I decided to come down and enjoy it. … This is just a great community to be a part of.”
The annual event, started in 2005, draws people not only for the fireworks and the music, but for a chance to celebrate the country’s independence with neighbors and friends.
“We’ve been coming for years. It’s becoming a tradition for us,” said Steve Wing, a Columbine Knolls resident. “Where else would you go tonight?”
Wing and his wife, Gina, brought their three children, Rozella, 4, Steven, 3, and Dylan, 7 months, to Clement Park a few hours before the fireworks to stake out a prime viewing spot. Within minutes of their arrival, they greeted two families they knew.
“We seem to always run into people we know when we come here. It’s a great sense of community,” Steve Wing said. “We both grew up here. We went to Chatfield High School and would go to the fireworks shows when we were younger.
“We want our kids to have that same experience. We want them to be able to come back here if they want to and share it with their children.”
While the fireworks were a major draw for most attendees, others were more interested in the social aspects of the holiday.
“It’s great to be able to hang out with friends and enjoy a beautiful day. It’s not just about the fireworks for me,” said Eileen Vialpando, a Littleton resident. “Food, cold beer and friends. What else would you want on the Fourth of July?”