DeKALB – Will Ocasio arrived at Hopkins Park at 10 a.m. to secure the perfect location for his group of friends to watch the fireworks.
“If you’re not here early, you can’t get a good seat,” he said. “We found a nice shady spot; we can see the fireworks and the band. When it’s time, we can just move our games and enjoy our spot.”
Ocasio, of Sycamore, and his friends played ladderball to pass the time Friday while they waited for the DeKalb fireworks show to begin at Hopkins Park, 1403 Sycamore Road. Park foreman Josh Clark said the park district expected at least 5,000 visitors to take in the show in or around the park.
“It’s a busy, long day,” Clark said. “We have four to six hours of cleaning tomorrow [after the show]. But the smiles and the energy of the crowd get me excited. It’s worth it.”
Clark, along with the park district, has spent the last week preparing for Friday’s show. Prior to the show, mowing and cleanup work is done to make sure the park is beautiful and safe. He said his team works on traffic control and cleaning during the event.
Clark said the first visitors to the park arrived at 6:30 a.m. Friday, putting down tarps to hold their spots.
“It’s just a big, fun day to be in DeKalb,” he said.
Doug Moser, salesman and lead shooter with DCV Imports, was part of the behind-the-scenes work of the fireworks for the tenth year in a row. He said he has a long day, as well.
“We start before everybody else gets here,” Moser said, “and we are cleaning up after they’ve left.”
Moser said 552 firework shells were used for the show’s finale alone. DCV Imports, a fireworks company from Lincoln, begins planning for the Independence Day show with the DeKalb Park District in April. Moser said the park district informs him how long the show should be and how much they plan to spend, and he creates the show from there.
This year’s show was about 18 minutes long and cost in the ballpark of $14,000, Moser said. The cost is split between the DeKalb Park District and the city of DeKalb.
Friday’s show was coordinated with the DeKalb Municipal Band’s music, as it has been in previous years. Moser said when a new song is about to begin, he is informed on his radio and sets off a cake of fireworks, or a new set.
“It’s a nice setup out here,” said Moser, who has worked on shows for other towns in the area. “The crowd can get up fairly close and we can actually hear their reactions.”
Roger and Linda Roberts of Waterman came to Friday’s event for the food and fireworks. Eight food vendors were present at this year’s show. The Robertses also came out for the music.
“We love to listen to the band,” Linda Roberts said. “They’re always good, no matter what.”