As the heat subsided, the July Fourth crowd at Hagerstown’s Fairgrounds Park swelled on Wednesday, eager for an evening of fun and fireworks.
People were spread out on blankets and under canopies throughout the park, playing games, picnicking and enjoying a sticky, lazy day.
Live music filled the air, including covers of Junior Walker & the All-Stars’ “Shotgun” and Van Morrison’s “Domino.”
Larry Lee Carter of Hagerstown stood in front of the stage, stepping in time to the music and waving his American flag.
“I just love the spirit of Hagerstown,” he said.
The evening kicked off with a ceremony in which Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II encouraged the crowd: “Please keep in your thoughts and prayers all those who continue to fight, today and every day, for our freedoms, be it abroad or at home.”
The fireworks were the big draw for many, including Shavita Perkins.
“I came here to get a headache,” she joked about the noise that goes with the awesome bursts of light in the sky.
Her 5-year-old son, Tyler, had his mind on other things — “getting wet, eating Mommy’s money,” he said.
Tyler’s shorts were soaked after he spent some time in one of the many sprinklers set up at the park.
David and Shalee Curtis of Greenbelt, Md., played Ladder Ball, a game in which contestants try to throw a rope with balls attached to both ends so the it wraps around the rungs of a ladder.
Their 18-month-old daughter, Rozlyn, toddled around, smiling.
Shalee Curtis said she and her husband included the fireworks show in Hagerstown as part of the itinerary of their overnight trip. They planned to visit Gettysburg, Pa., on Thursday.
Dozens of young people attending Mount Aetna Summer Camp were nearby. Linski Cherisol said the campers came to the park for the fireworks.
Cherisol said he lives in Miami, but has worked at the camp for four years.
As a stream of people walked toward Fairgrounds Park, former state Sen.Donald F. Munson, who is running for Hagerstown City Council, perched himself on a picnic table and watched the crowd file past.
Munson said his wife’s family — the Calandrellis — lives by the park and has held an outdoor Independence Day party there for more than 70 years.
Keeping cool was a challenge on a day that peaked at 96 degrees, according to weather watcher Greg Keefer’s website.
Chas Rittenhouse of Hagerstown, dressed as Little Heiskell, the symbolic soldier on a weather vane atop Hagerstown City Hall, was among those feeling the heat.
“Three levels of linen, one level of wool,” Rittenhouse said, describing his uniform that the city purchased five years ago.