LIMA — Warm and sunny weather coupled with a variety of events throughout the day brought thousands of area residents to Faurot Park on Tuesday for the annual Star Spangled Spectacular, which was capped by a fireworks display that some attendees called “the best show around.”
As the Lima Area Concert Band took the stage, people began to find the perfect spot to enjoy the night’s entertainment. Two of those people were Bluffton residents Dave and Marilyn Kihm, who picked a spot on top of a hill near the back of the concert stage. The couple said they’ve been coming to the Star Spangled Spectacular since it began nearly a quarter century ago.
“It’s the best around,” Dave Kihm said of the fireworks show. “I especially like the beginning of it with the music and then the finale.”
The Kihms said they sit in the same spot every year, and they attend whether it’s “rain or shine.”
“This is our spot,” he said with a laugh. “You can hear the music good, and it’s a good spot to see the fireworks.”
While the Kihms sat on a hill on top of the “bowl area” at the park, Lois Bender Nichelson and her husband, Robert Nichelson, set up shop under a shady tree at the bottom of the hill. It was the second year the Hardin County couple came to Lima for the event.
“This is just a neat park, and it’s a nice, friendly atmosphere,” Bender Nichelson said of the event. “I love the music, and of course I love the fireworks.”
Elida resident Niki Lieurance said coming to the Star Spangled Spectacular was like a family tradition for her and her loved ones. Lieurance said they’ve come every year since 1994.
“My mom’s here, my daughter and her kids are here, then my aunt and cousins, so we’ve all come every year,” said Lieurance, who was with her granddaughter, 1-year-old Milah Crouch. “It’s family tradition, but it’s also one of the best fireworks shows we’ve ever seen.”
This year’s Star Spangled Spectacular was sponsored by Tom Ahl Family of Dealerships, the city of Lima, Superior Credit Union, Your Hometown Lima Stations and St. Rita’s Medical Center.
The 24th annual Independence Day celebration featured much more than fireworks, even if that was the main draw for most people.
“We offer a variety of entertainment,” said Dan McCormick, chairman of the 2017 Star Spangled Spectacular. “I think bringing back the fishing derby brought a lot of people out earlier to the park, and then you had free kids rides, a couple different options for live music, and obviously the highlight of the night is the fireworks. It’s the best part, and the part people look forward to all year long.”
The celebration began in the early morning with the Abilities League Baseball Game, and it continued with the Freedom 5K Run/Walk. The morning events wrapped up with a Freedom Fun Run.
The afternoon slate featured the fishing derby, as well as pavilion stage entertainment from Mike Hemmelgarn, who performed three shows, as well as the Octane Drumline, which took the stage between Hemmelgarn’s performances. Attendees also enjoyed music from Brother Believe Me and the Lima Area Concert Band, which performed patriotic tunes leading up to the fireworks show.
Other pre-fireworks events included the Western Ohio Baseball League All-Star Baseball Game, the Veterans Car Show and Cruise-In and a Veterans Parade. Children were also able to enjoy five rides, including the “Sizzler,” “Searay” and “The Joker,” which were all free.
There was also a wide range of food options for event-goers to choose from. Several barbecue stands from area vendors were selling pulled pork, ribs and chicken, among other meaty options. Hungry attendees craving something sweet could take their pick of funnel cakes, cotton candy, slushies and homemade ice cream.
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @Bush_Lima.