LAURINBURG — Red, white and blue were far from the only colors to fill the skies above Scotland High School on Saturday night, joined by green, pink and purple in the city’s annual Independence Day fireworks display.
While about 500 people opted for a seat in the stands at Pate Stadium, hundreds of others camped out along both sides of U.S. 401, unfolding chairs on Scotland High School Drive and Wilkinson Drive and piling into residential backyards.
Mississippi resident Nathan Barnes capped off a visit home by taking in the fireworks with his wife and two daughters.
“I like the family time — we moved away from here and come home for family — and of course the freedoms that we have as Americans and being able to enjoy those freedoms,” he said.
The fireworks display was orchestrated by East Coast Pyrotechnics at a cost to the city of $11,000. Those in the stands counted down the start of the show just before dark, whipping out their phones to capture mementos of the rockets’ red glare as lights twirled and exploded high above to the sounds of “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” Neil Diamond’s “America” and the 1812 Overture.
The fireworks concluded shortly before 10 p.m., prolonged by a 20-minute break for paramedics, standing by on the scene, to respond to a medical emergency in the stands.
As holidaymakers began trickling into the stands several hours earlier, a steady stream of radio hits kept the mood festive, along with a steady stream of prizes for lip synching and most patriotic outfit contests and drawing of the winner of a $500 Chamber of Commerce gift card.
On the nation’s 239th anniversary of independence from Great Britain, updated definitions of freedom were as numerous as the celebrants present.
“Freedom for us is freedom from the life we used to live,” said former Marine Phillip Oxendine, referring to spiritual renewal through his Christian faith. “But at the same time we can’t forget the military. Knowing that we have freedom because there are those that will sacrifice their lives to go overseas and take care of us back home, that’s a big blessing for us.”
“Freedom of choice to do anything your heart desires, and to become anything that you desire to be, that’s what this country is about, with no boundaries as far as growth, education, freedom to worship,” added Sheila Mitchell.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.