Despite an early evening downpour, the faces of an estimated 10,000 residents and visitors around Sun City Center were eventually lit up.
Organizers of the second expanded Sun City Center Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show said the event brought smiles to observers' faces and money for next year's show.
As spectators began lining up folding chairs along the former North Course clubhouse and up and down North Pebble Beach Drive, Harold and Helen Kyne of Sun City Center positioned themselves for the best view. Harold Kyne said they were especially excited to be able to watch the 7 p.m. fireworks show from almost their backyard.
"It's going to be fun. We've been excited for this all year. We were away last year and everyone said how good they were so we came out this year," he said.
Garden State Fireworks of Millington, N.J., brought in the $21,000 fireworks display funded primarily by Minto Communities, Brandon Honda, and residents who contributed to a fund over the past year. From a fairway about 400 yards away, the colorful explosives shot into a then-cloudless sky, lighting up guests and rooftops with loud bangs.
The small-town, patriotic vibe of the event resonated with Sun City Center's Alan Mills, 65. He said although a warm air was blowing through, the tight-knit community feel reminded him of Fourth of July celebrations when he was growing up in Portland, Maine. There, he and the community would watch from a field as fireworks lit up Munjoy Hill.
"It is also a bit different from Maine, but it's still a cordial, family event," he said.
About 20 yards south of Mills, Thomas Whyte, 83, an Air Force flight engineer veteran, said he was proud to see the patriotism that went along with the event. Wearing his USAF cap, he said the community seemed to fervently support patriotic events.
"It's a celebration of our independence and we've all come out to celebrate together," he said.
The July Fourth celebration day began with a 7 a.m. community breakfast in the Atrium's Florida Room, at which 1,012 diners generated about between $1,500 and $1,600 in proceeds. Later, for the first time, the owners of the Sandpiper Grill in Sun City Center sold grilled bratwurst, chicken and ribs with baked beans, potato chips, soft drinks, and water before the fireworks and a steady line of hungry sightseers kept the cooks busy.
After the show, Ann Marie Leblanc, July 4 celebration chairperson and director of the Community Association, said the fireworks and the glow-in-the-dark necklaces supplied by the association, took off perfectly. She said plans to make the event better for 2013 would soon be underway.
"Last year, a month after, people were still smiling and asking about the next Fourth of July. We hope that happens again," she said,