BRADENTON -- Sisters Camilla and Elisabeth Bremnes decided they were going to get the full American experience for the 4th of July.
"We don't have baseball at home in Norway," Camilla Bremnes said. "So we wanted to see the American experience. And here we've got baseball, fireworks, everything."
The two joined a crowd of 5,812 people that crowded the stands of McKechnie Field for the Marauders game versus the Charlotte Stone Crabs and the post-game fireworks. They got a true American experience as the Marauders came in to beat the Stone Crabs 9-8 at the bottom of the ninth, to huge cheers from the crowd and plenty of team celebrating before the fireworks even started.
Some people, like Keith Tozer, were longtime fans who would be
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at the game regardless, but were happy to see some American spirit celebrations.
"They're out where everyone can see them. They shoot them out, and they're spectacular," Tozer said. "They're the big stuff that everybody loves."
Tozer said the 12-minute show was a great one, with huge bursts set to loud music against an empty, black sky. Some added effects came in this year, as lightning continued to strike. Tozer brought his grandson Jarred Jones, who said he couldn't wait for the show after an already exciting game.
"We walked out in left field and caught a home run ball when it was 6-6, when the Stone Crabs tied it," Tozer said.
In addition to the ball, the two took home two special 4th of July free T-shirts, which were given to the first 1,500 people to walk into the game. Nate March, spokesman for the Marauders, said they typically give away 750 free shirts for Friday games, but increased it to 1,500 for the Independence Day celebration.
"T-shirts were gone within the first 10 minutes of the gate opening," March said. "At 5:30 the gate opened, and by 5:40 they were gone."
The Marauders also wore special camo jerseys during the game, which were auctioned off on silent auction sheets during the game and given directly to the winners by the players when the game ended.
Others, like John Hennesey, were there specifically for the fireworks display. Hennesey said he'd heard great things about the fireworks at McKechnie, so when Current Community Church arranged an outing at the game, he brought his family.
"We came out for the fireworks. Our church decided to put something together, and I think 30 or 40 of us are here with the church," Hennessey said. "We decided to come out, enjoy a good night, have all the kids get together and run around, have a good time and watch fireworks."
Employees also showed some American pride, as Nick Long, the coordinator of McKechnie Field operations, dressed up like Uncle Sam, complete with a long, fake beard. Another Uncle Sam threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
"I figured, it's one of our biggest games of the year, why not look like Uncle Sam?" he said.
Camilla and Elisabeth Bremnes also showed off their pride for the red, white and blue, wearing the free T-shirts and cheering from the stands. They said they were most excited for the fireworks, and they got a little something extra when the bursts started out to the blaring strains of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA."
"We only set off fireworks in Norway on New Year's Eve, and they're private," Elisabeth Bremnes said. "So you have to buy your own. We don't get any shows like this."
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055. You can follow her on Twitter @KateIrby