By Brandon Smith
On Saturday, July 1, the Grand Rapids Independence Day celebration peaked with the annual fireworks show at Ah-Nab-Awen Park. Thousands gathered on the Blue Bridge, the Pearl Street Bridge, and the Bridge Street Bridge to watch the show. Grand Rapids Police patrolled around the area to keep traffic under control, their red and blue flashing lights blending in with the blinding lights and colors exploding in the sky.
The crowd applauded the show as bursts of reds, blues, and yellows lit up the night sky, sometimes vaguely in the shape of the circular Grand Rapids city logo. The show culminated in a grand finale where fireworks were lit off in a non-stop barrage, as though the sky itself was on fire with burning colors.
The fireworks show coincided with the second day of the Grand Rapids Foodie Festival, where dozens of food trucks and vendors congregated in Calder Plaza. One girl was snacking on what looked like an entire pineapple. It was actually a piña loca, which is a treat made with a whole pineapple that is carved out and stuffed with mangos, watermelon, and cucumbers.
A firework show can attract a plethora of people, some stranger than others. For example, near the Bridge Street Bridge, there was a man who brought his pet python and allowed parents to take pictures of their kids holding the snake. The kids and bystanders looked uneasy as the python wrapped around their waists.
The fireworks show went off without a hitch. As the finale came to an end and the city came together with the sound of cheering from the viewing areas all over downtown, the grim reality quickly set in that traffic all throughout Grand Rapids was about to be a nightmare.