LIMA — As the sounds of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” filled Faurot Park, a tremendous crowd at this year’s Star Spangled Spectacular was treated to an even more tremendous fireworks display.
“We always say we want to get bigger every year,” Kurt Neeper, chairman of this year’s Star Spangled Spectacular organizing committee, said.
Tommy Caprella took in the display from his folding lawn chair behind the American Red Cross building on Collett Street. Catching the fireworks is a highlight for his celebrations every year.
“I try to make it out most years,” he said. “This is a great spot right here.”
Sitting next to him was Mike Caprella, the City of Lima’s deputy director of utilities. Both he and Tommy take a great deal of pride in the show Lima puts on every Fourth of July.
“You’d have to go a long ways to find a better show than we have here,” Mike Caprella said. “You’d probably have to go to Detroit or something.”
“I’ve grown up in Lima all my life, and this is something that definitely makes me proud of my hometown,” Tommy Caprella added.
The fireworks were the culmination of an entire evening of entertainment at the main stage. The crowd was treated to two acts crossing a variety of musical styles. Nashville Crush, a local band named an emerging artist by the Country Music Association the past two years, took the stage for three performances. For band members Brad Wright and Dean Maag, coming back home to perform at the Star Spangled Spectacular is a special treat.
“It’s cool to see so many people come out here, even really early,” Maag said. “My family’s been coming out to it forever, and it’s a great event to support.”
“It’s so cool to do something this big in your hometown area, too,” Wright said. “It’s great having so many people at such a cool venue.”
With Nashville Crush having released a new EP and working to get connected with a recording label in Nashville, having such a strong local following inspires the group to keep working to achieve their goals as musicians.
“We’re trying as a group to move to the next level, and we’ve been getting a lot of support from all these local people,” Wright said. “When we ask how many people have seen us before, it’s overwhelming to hear how many people respond.”
Sharing the stage with Nashville Crush was the Lima Area Concert Band, providing a different musical selection with pieces ranging from John Phillip Sousa to Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.
“We’re very excited and looking forward to putting on a performance for all these people,” conductor John Hill said.
“We’ve been preparing for a month on this, but we rehearse from March through September, so we’ve been at this for a while,” Hill said. “We’ve got a lot of Sousa marches as well as a lot of pieces that people can sing along with. We want to make sure we’ve got something for everyone.”
Being such a patriotic holiday, July Fourth offered the atmosphere in which the concert band could flourish.
“This band was formed after the idea of Sousa’s band, which was all about patriotism,” Hill said. “So this goes right along with that.”
Several thousand people filled the park opposite the stage to watch the fireworks show, and that was only a small fraction of the number of people organizers estimated would view the spectacle.
“It depends on what numbers you go by,” Neeper said. “Usually, we estimate that around 30,000 people view the fireworks, and that’s from multiple locations throughout the city.”
With Friday’s beautiful weather and the grandeur of the 20-minute long display, Neeper was hoping to see that number go up this year.
“We’re really hoping to break some records,” he said.
To allow for crowds to filter out at an easier pace, as well as providing more entertainment, the fireworks were followed up by an encore performance by Nashville Crush. Maag and the rest of the crew were excited to bring the celebration to a close.
“It’s the best fireworks show in the land,” he said. “It’s a great night.”