Raleigh mayor calls 'Works a success, despite fireworks flap

Raleigh celebrates the Fourth of July with fireworks.
July 5, 2013 2:30:58 PM PDT
Raleigh marked the Fourth of July with three stages of live music and two fireworks displays Thursday.

Nearly two dozen bands took part in The 'Works on Fayetteville Street on stages set up on Morgan Street, the Plaza, and at the Red Hat Amphitheater.

After criticism in 2012 that the fireworks weren't high enough, the city worked to solve the problem this year with two fireworks displays. The first over Fayetteville Street was lower, and the second - much higher - at the Red Hat Amphitheater.

But this year's events didn't go off as smoothly as hoped. The first display was about 15 minutes behind schedule and the second display at the Amphitheater was delayed for about 15-20 minutes when cars and spectators strayed into the 200 foot safety buffer zone around the launch site. Police cleared the area and the fireworks display went on as planned.

"It was about safety. These are big shells. They went really high, and we had to clear a larger space," said Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

Raleigh police said there was some kind of brief disturbance in the 300 block of Fayetteville Street and a large crowd gathered there between the fireworks displays. ABC11 cameras captured people running and witnesses said there was one person who appeared to have been trampled. Police went to the area, but said there were no signs of injuries.

Later, police were using whistles out in front of the ABC11 studios on Fayetteville Street in an attempt to get people to disperse.

Despite some problems, Mayor McFarlane pointed out this was just the second year of holding 4th of July celebrations downtown after moving it from the North Carolina State Fairgrounds - and it's a learning process.

"We've obviously learned something about crowd control and how people leave and you know we thought with the staggered fireworks it would make it a little easier for people to leave wouldn't have everybody leaving at once, but now we know as people are leaving from the first one we really have to make sure that everything is clear for the second one. So, it's a process you know every year we learn and every year we get better," she said. "Next year is going to be even better. I don't know what we can do to top it but I know it will be even better."

But despite the glitches with the fireworks, people who came out for the music and food on Fayetteville Street earlier in the day told ABC11 it was a lot of fun.

"We're having a great time, family's having a great time, beautiful weather as you can see, and I'm ready to eat some hotdogs," said Jeff Pace who came downtown to check it out.

"Everyone's in a good mood and everyone's having a good time and the weather's nice," said visitor Christie Brown.

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