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The Suburbanite
  • FRANK WEAVER, JR.: Portage Lakes lights up for the Fourth

  • The Fourth of July festivities, a celebration as only the good folks of the Portage Lakes know how to produce a celebration, were once again capped off by a gigantic fireworks extravaganza launched from Mason's Point over Turkeyfoot Lake.

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  • The Fourth of July festivities, a celebration as only the good folks of the Portage Lakes know how to produce a celebration, were once again capped off by a gigantic fireworks extravaganza launched from Mason's Point over Turkeyfoot Lake.
    Indubitably, it was by far, the biggest, the most beautiful and very best fireworks show ever launched at the Portage Lakes. Because of the length of time it lasted, it certainly was the biggest. The rockets selected to use in the show definitely made it the most beautiful, and because no other show in the state could hold a candle to this one, that made it the best.
    Without a question of a doubt, this year's show was the grandest fireworks display I've ever seen in Ohio and possibly the best I've ever seen anywhere. I am not exaggerating as I write this because in my many years of life here on this good ol' earth, I have seen many.
    After arriving at the lakefront under threatening skies that evening, the clouds finally opened up at three minutes past eight and soaked the area for a good 15 minutes. Clear skies moved in from the west until 8:47 p.m., when the rains came again. By 9 p.m., most were wondering if the show would be postponed until Sunday evening.
    I asked Dano Mundy, chairman of the Portage Lakes Fireworks Association, if the evening would end as a rain-delayed event. "No," he answered, "we'll have clear skies by ten."
    "But the TV weatherman, Dick Goddard, called for rain tonight," I cautiously informed him.
    "On the Fourth of July, Goddard never makes a weather prediction for the Portage Lakes unless he checks with me first," Mundy said with a devilish gleam in his eyes, a  chuckle and a half grin on his face that told me he was once again trying to hoodwink me.
    At 9:57 p.m, rain started falling again, and then just as quickly, they stopped as the launch hour approached. At exactly 10 p.m., the music started and the opening barrage of rockets fired illuminations skyward, lighting up the heavens with a myriad of colors - so many that almost everyone swiftly forgot the menacing skies.
    Not 23, not 27, not even 29 minutes, but for a full half-hour (I timed it), one shot after another was fired. It was as if you were watching a 30-minute finale. One after the other, fireworks lit up the skies. As one illumination started to dim, another was reaching for its glowing peak. As that one started dimming, another was climbing toward paramount illumination.
    For those who have access to Facebook, check the last three minutes and 23 seconds of the show. It's a video that includes the grand finale and can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/PortageLakesOhio.
    Page 2 of 3 - To top it off, it was once again choreographed to patriotic music broadcast from WONE 97.5 FM.
    At no time was there as much as one second of darkened sky. At the very most, perhaps a half second may have slipped in, but then that could very well be stretching it.
    At the 15-minute mark, a mini-finale hit the skies. At the 23-minute mark, another small finale was fired. In between, one rocket after another, one boom after the other, one gigantic display of bombs bursting in air after the preceding one, thrilled the more than 100,000 (conservatively estimated) firework fans who drove from as far away as Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Columbus to watch what is swiftly becoming one of the best Fourth of July fireworks shows in the eastern part of the country.
    At exactly the 26:45 mark of the show, the grand finale kicked in. For the remaining three and a quarter minutes it was as though the entire Portage Lakes area was under siege. You could've read this column under the continuous illumination of that Grand Finale.
    Each year I wonder how Mundy and his gang of 21 volunteers could possibly top what they have just produced, but somehow, each year they do. And every year, you, me and everyone else end up as winners. This year was no exception. They have done it before and continue to do so again and again. A well-deserved tip of my captain's hat goes their way.
    Other events occurring earlier in the day also produced winners. Five daytime boat parade winners hauled off with some nifty cash and prizes along with four Sand Castle building winners.
    First pace in the daytime boat parade went to the Vesco family of Green for their entry of a Soap Box Derby boat.
    Second place was won by Mark Simpson and Diane McCarthy of Coventry for their Pirate Ship entry. Third place went to the Teddy Robb Band of Coventry in the Portage Lakes. Fourth place was won by the Paula Warner for her PLX Duck Dynasty entry. The Tommy Leighton Award, a trophy, went to Robert Belliveau and Crew of Uniontown for their Sea Scout Ship 5001 entry.
    Eighty-five contestants participated in the annual Sand Castle Building contest at the state park beach. Rick Wike of Green took first place with a Sun Face sculpture and for creating a colorful octopus, Audrey Dolan and Grace Garritano won second place. Third place went to Daniel and Michael Mundy and Andrew Dolan from Manchester for their sand castle sculpture topped with a turtle. That winning team also included Alison and Jamie Garbash of St. Clairsville, Ohio. The fourth spot went to the Connors family of Coventry for their Coventry Comet sculpture.
    Mundy thanked all the sponsors and residents "who have made donations which have made our Independence Day festivities possible."
    Page 3 of 3 - Comments may be emailed to: Frankweaverjr@aol.com