After the old courthouse was renovated, fears that fireworks would damage the structure had put fireworks shows on hold, but in the intervening years, town, county and chamber of commerce leaders heard plenty of comments from residents who missed the patriotic show.
“Even if we as a community don’t think or plan ahead for them (Fourth of July fireworks), I think we all just expect to see them,” said Julie Spiro, executive director of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce. “It is the American way.”
So, the Commerce shouldered the task of bringing the fireworks back, spending the past year raising funds and finding a suitable location. Eighteen different business partners have come together to foot the $18,000 bill for fireworks, bands and advertising.
The Jackson County Commissioners were more than on board when they considered a request earlier this month to kick in $5,000 of that. Chairman Brian McMahan pointed to a photo print hanging on the wall of the room, an image by Webster mayor and photographer Nick Breedlove showing downtown Sylva all lit up for Fourth of July festivities.
“It would be nice to be able to see that kind of enthusiasm and a big crowd in the county seat to celebrate the Fourth of July,” McMahan said. “The economic impact of that would be enormous.”
“It’s our nation’s most important celebration,” said Commissioner Boyce Dietz.
To avert fears of damage to the courthouse, the chamber brought in the company East Coast Pyrotechnics to find a spot to shoot where the fireworks would avoid damaging any structures but also put on a show visible throughout downtown. A property in Sunrise Park, donated by Wayne Smith, fit the bill.
“I think we’ve got some really great vantage points from a couple of different routes into Sylva,” said Spiro, adding that a test shoot revealed ample viewing from Main Street, the old courthouse steps, Bridge Park, Sylva Plaza and N.C. 107 near Subway.
The celebration will include more than just fireworks. Children’s activities will be available throughout the evening, and from 4 to 6 p.m., Darren Nicholson will perform his blend of bluegrass, country and folk, joined by four-time Grammy winner David Holt with his band David Holt and Friends. The Business will play some soul/funk/rhythm from 6:30 to 9:45 p.m., and as darkness falls the fireworks will begin.
“We’re really grateful that the chamber has taken on the effort to bring them back,” said Sylva Town Manager Paige Dowling, “because fireworks are a great thing for a community to have.”