BRADENTON BEACH — Despite overcast skies and showers throughout the week, the BeachHouse Fireworks Extravaganza went off with a bang on Saturday as a part of the Fourth of July weekend festivities.
“It’s almost a celebration tonight that there isn’t any oil right now. For me, it’s a year of people coming together at a time when people have lost their homes and lost their jobs,” said Rebecca Shannon, general manager at BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., as preparations were made for the 20-minute firework display near the restaurant. The fireworks, fired off a barge, were funded by restaurant owner Ed Chiles and other sponsors.
“The water looks pretty good,” Shannon said. “We don’t stop watching the ocean. ... You want it to be like the biggest bathtub — calm.”
Hundreds of people found spots in the sand and boats began to dot the water as the skies grew darker. Children hung near the shoreline waving sparklers in their small hands.
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Organizers began the show about 15 minutes earlier than scheduled to avoid rain showers that blanketed the area shortly after.
For some the show is time of reflection and family.
“Two Tampa police officers were buried today. It can’t help but make you say, ‘Wow, we’re all healthy and alive here,’” Shannon said. “When times are tough, it’s just nice for everyone to come together and celebrate our (nation’s) birthday.”
Jason Suedhof, of Bradenton, sat in a chair with his fiancee, Amy, and 6-year-old daughter Lily just before the sun went down.
Despite the threat of showers, he said that didn’t deter him from coming to the beach, and he still planned on attend another fireworks display along the Manatee River tonight in downtown Bradenton.
“We would have come out any way,” he said. “One way or another, it always works out. When you have little ones, it’s an inexpensive outing. All you have to do is pack a cooler and make sure you have good company.”