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Threat of lightning stops concert, delays fireworks

Public safety was the main concern

Lucy Veile takes her mom Sarah Veile’s hands and makes her way out of the sand as she and dozens of other children enjoy playing in the Madison Street sand lot during the Salute to America festival’s Independence Day celebration on Thursday.

Lucy Veile takes her mom Sarah Veile’s hands and makes her way out of the sand as she and dozens of other children enjoy playing in the Madison Street sand lot during the Salute to America festival’s Independence Day celebration on Thursday. Photo by Kris Wilson.

This year’s Salute to America only had one hitch: rain and lightning began just before dusk Thursday.

Event organizer Jill Snodgrass said the weather really only caused about a five- to 10-minute delay for the fireworks, but what was really disappointing for her was having to shut down the Diamond Rio concert after only about 20 minutes.

“That really was a bad deal,” Snodgrass said. “So many people were so looking forward to seeing that, and we were pretty excited about having a national, Grammy award-winning act.”

Snodgrass said the issue for the fireworks wasn’t rain, but the threat of more lightning after the rain had stopped. She said the fireworks are able to be launched during rain, but they don’t want people outside during lightning strikes.

“We were concerned about safety. There was one more cloud that was coming over, and we had had so much lightning ... nobody wanted anybody to be standing outside if there was going to be more lightning,” Snodgrass said. “Public safety’s always number one.”

She said she began her show at the north Capitol stage by 9:35 p.m. The fireworks began just before 10 p.m. Thursday. She said any delay may have felt longer for those who were not at the Capitol to see the full event on the stage before the fireworks beginning.

“That’s really the difference between people who bother to come to the event and be a part of the actual, whole celebration that we have and the people who are sitting in their cars ... waiting for it to happen,” Snodgrass said. “It’s an event, it’s not just a fireworks in the sky. It’s a whole package of things.”

Overall though, the event went well this year with much more favorable weather than last year’s heat and humidity, she said.

“We were just so lucky,” Snodgrass said.

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