The “waterfall” effect has always been a highlight of Boomsday as fireworks cascade down the side of the Henley Street Bridge into the the Tennessee River. For the past few years, there has also been a waterfall of rain.
This year, the event was held on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend instead of Sunday. The weather was sunny and hot when the festival opened at 3:00 p.m. By 4:30, we were getting doused with rain. Across the street from the WNOX booth, a Metro Pulse tent caught a gust of wind, flipped in the air and landed upside down in the middle of Neyland Drive. Fortunately, the people had already scattered and the tent didn’t land on or near anyone. Workers grabbed it and dismantled it. Meanwhile, my coworkers and I lowered the WNOX tent so that the same thing wouldn’t happen to us.
The skies cleared for several hours and the festival resumed. I found time to admire the decorated Metro Pulse newspaper boxes across the street. I recognized the one in front. My friend Cheryl Burchett painted it as her entry in their Paper Box Design Contest.
I had prepared a half-hour music sweep for Star 102.1 that preceded the fireworks. It had to start at exactly 8:30 and run for precisely thirty minutes. I nipped and tucked a few song intro and outros to make it fit. At 8:50 p.m., I could tell that the fireworks crew had jumped six minutes ahead. More rain was on the way and they decided to start the show as soon as possible. The fireworks began at 8:54 instead of 9:00 p.m.
During the show, my coworkers and I rushed to dismantle the WNOX booth and get everything packed in the van before the rain started. I had hoped to stay and watch but decided to start walking to my car. I could see flashes of fireworks behind me and flashes of lightning in the distance ahead of me. I got in the car and started driving home with fireworks visible in my mirror.
As I walked to my car, I saw a lot of people who chose viewing spots where they couldn’t hear the speakers playing the soundtrack. The fireworks are beautifully choreographed to music and I felt bad that those folks were missing out on half of the entertainment value.
As I drove along 11th Street, I saw a lot of people walking toward the fireworks. I wondered if they thought the show was supposed to start at 9:30 as it had in previous years. When I got home, I saw a message on Twitter from someone who also had no idea that the scheduled showtime had been moved to 9:00. I felt bad for them too because the information was heavily promoted on television, radio, newspaper and online.