Fireworks, Schmireworks …

Hi all!

Pardon me whilst I weather another shower in the gazebo, although I did manage to get in a brief swim  before the clouds opened up!

So, on Saturday, July 4, we all went to Wild Adventures Theme Park to see the fireworks!

Valdosta is fortunate to have a venue like Wild Adventures. The complex includes a water park, a thrill ride park, lots of wonderful animal shows, a regular concert series featuring big-name performers, and all the typical accoutrements that one finds at a full-service theme park. Of course, that also includes an inflated entrance fee, a gigantic parking jam when leaving, sub-standard food, etc. But’s it’s our theme park, there is none better, and we love it!

Over the Valdosta years, we have experimented with different locales for firework indulgence. Last year, we trekked east to Jacksonville and joined a vast mob of humanity along the river to see a really good pyrotechnic show. Of course, Moxie escaped her harness in the middle of the crowd causing me some palpitations, but she was rescued immediately and gladly returned to my welcoming arms. A new harness made an appearance the next day! We also have tried to see the City of Valdosta display, but the instructions say sit anywhere between Exits 16 and 18 on I75 for best viewing. Hmmm. I remember the first year in town when we asked a local where to watch the fireworks. We were told the Valdosta Mall parking lot. So we faithfully lugged chairs, etc. over to the mall and set up waiting for darkness. Finally, way, way, way (did I say – way) off in the distance we saw some fireworks. “Gee, Honey,” I said, “someone has their own fireworks show going over there.” Lo and behold, that was the city show. No one told us to bring binoculars!

Oh well, on to this year’s saga.

We arrived about 4:30 in order to see the Tigers of India Show. It’s been one of our favorites for all the years we’ve been here. It was great again, despite the fact that two of the tigers urinated (we’re talking spray!) on folks in the front row. We were in the front row, but the tigers knew better …

After the Tiger Show, we decided that we would ride the Safari Train, a lazy little locomotive ride through various groupings of exotic animals that’s always fun. Unfortunately, everyone else in south Georgia also thought that would be a good time to ride the train. After moving VERY slowly through the labyrinth of waiting lines, we arrived at a opportunity to exit the queue. We took it!

We wanted to see the Ancients Among Us show which was a bird/dinosaur historical attraction. We made it just in time. The show was informative and more or less entertaining. The most exciting part was when a rather large EMU walked right by my front row seat (yikes!). There was a trainer along side the beast, but it was roaming free and unleashed! It looked into my eyes in a very unsettling way!

We decided not to try the train again and made our way to the other side of the park. We watched a science/comedy show that was pretty lackluster, but entertaining for the kids. It featured Mentos in diet coke and other such “experiments.”

It was now time to grab a bite for dinner and then stake out our territory for watching the Fireworks Spectacular. We all ordered hamburger meals. The product quality did not reach that of McDonalds (make your own grading scale).

We found a great spot to observe the fireworks and set up our folding chairs and settled back with drinks and cell phones prepared to wait about 45 minutes until dark. About 9:15 pm an announcement came over the park’s speaker system that the fireworks show would begin in fifteen minutes. Thirty minutes later, an announcement proclaimed that the fireworks show would begin in ten minutes. About twenty minutes later, an announcement stated that the show would begin in five minutes. After another twenty minutes, an announcement said they were having technical difficulties and the show would begin as soon as possible. From here my recollection becomes somewhat hazy. I think there was another ten minute announcement followed by another twenty minute wait. At any rate, the next thing was a apologetic announcement explaining that they really, really wanted to give us the show tonight. The crowd was becoming restless. Words like refund started to jump out from the rumble. Some folks actually packed up and left. Suddenly, the park lights went out and fireworks started filling the sky. It seemed like all was well and we could forgive the park for issues beyond their control. About ten rockets went off and suddenly it seemed like one of the larger units exploded on the ground. There was silence for a minute (that’s a long time!). Then – an announcement came on thanking us for attending the Fireworks Spectacular.

Disgruntlement ensued …

We packed up, shuffled off to the car, endured the parking lot jam, and made it home (but not in time to watch the National Broadcast from Washington, DC!). On the way home, we discussed the management problems and possible solutions available to the park in a situation such as this.

My feeling is that it would have been nice for the park to reschedule the fireworks for another night (maybe even July 5th, the next night,which was a Sunday), and admit July 4th ticket holders free of charge. That didn’t happen.

Today in the July 8th edition of the Valdosta Daily Times, there was an article stating that the park was rescheduling the fireworks for a date in mid-August. No mention was made of any compensation for the July 4th patrons.

Did I mention that tickets for the park are about $40 plus parking.

I remember when I was a kid and when my kids were kids, the highlight of a July 4th backyard celebration was holding and waving a sparkler and being in awe of the brilliance of this wire thing that you held in your hand. I guess the best thing was – it never let you down. Of course, it wasn’t “the rocket’s red glare,” but it was fun and faithful …

I’ll see you soon online. Cheers!  -JAS

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