If Mount Airy residents wanted to see fireworks on July 4, they had to drive to Columbia, Frederick or Westminster.
Not this year.
A group of business owners in the town have come together to fund the first Celebrate Independence Day event that will feature fireworks, live music and local food vendors, including Back to the Garden Food Truck, CarterQue BBQ and Cryin' Johnnies.
Ben Golueke, owner of Mt. Airy Liquors, and Chris Coleman, owner of Mt. Airy Eye Care, spearheaded the event and Golueke said the community response has been fantastic.
"We didn't know what response we would get, but it's totally blown us away," he said.
Coleman and Golueke recruited 17 businesses, including their own, to sponsor the event, which will cost about $20,000.
"We had a really good idea, but they (the community) have really, really come through," Golueke said.
Golueke said they intended to hold the fireworks show July 4, but the fireworks company they wanted was already booked. That fireworks company also puts on the fireworks show at the annual Mount Airy Carnival at the end of July.
The event will be held at the Firemen's Activities Grounds July 3 at 5 p.m. with the fireworks expected around 9 to 9:15 p.m. Rain date is July 5.
There will be activities and games, but Golueke said organizers didn't want a carnival. The goal was an event for people to simply spend time with their families.
Although the Town of Mount Airy isn't organizing the fireworks display, it is in total support of the event, according to Melissa Hoyle, Mount Airy Community Development Coordinator.
"The town is very proud to be home to our first Independence Day celebration," she said.
Mount Airy hasn't hosted a Fourth of July celebration in years past because no one stepped up to organize one, according to Hoyle
The town has had issues in years past with residents setting off illegal fireworks in the community and Hoyle said the town is hopeful that this event will deter that.
Golueke said he and Coleman began discussing the idea of a local fireworks show four to five months ago and it snowballed into what it is today.
Surprisingly, he said, the planning has gone extremely smoothly.
And community leaders have been there to help and support the event since the beginning.
"It's scary that's its gone so smoothly," Golueke said. "Something has to go wrong, but it hasn't yet."
The hope is that this becomes an annual event, but Golueke said that organizers will have to see the outcome of Wednesday's debut.
He said he is expecting an "amazing" turnout.
"It would surprise me if it wasn't packed," he said.
A Facebook page for the event, Mount Airy Fireworks, had collected 689 likes as of 1:30 p.m. June 26.