Red, White & BOOM to mark Salisbury’s July Fourth

Red White and Boom, Salisbury’s annual free Fourth of July party, kicks off  Thursday with music, food, bounce houses and a kids’ kazoo parade leading up to the main event — a fireworks display.

“It’s a big deal for the community,” said organizer Brian Nelson, who is co-chairing the event with Brian Weitzel.

The pair got involved with Red White and Boom two years ago after Mike Dunn, president and CEO of the Greater Salisbury Committee and a longtime community promoter, decided to step aside as chairman.

Dunn started Red White and Boom in 2012 after Salisbury had been without Independence Day fireworks for six years.  “I decided that was long enough,” he said.

The annual display was once sponsored by the Salisbury Jaycees, and Dunn said he grew up in the 1960s and ’70s with a backyard view of the fireworks from his family’s home on Wyman Drive.

But then it stopped. “It just sort of went away,” Dunn said.

In 2011, he decided it was time to bring fireworks back to Salisbury.

At the time, the city’s political scene was “rough and tumble,” and weary residents needed something positive happening in town for a change, Dunn said.

“If we wanted to be the kind of community we wanted to be we had to have free fireworks,” he said.

The event was first held at Salisbury University then at the former Bennett Middle School site before moving to its current home at Wicomico County Stadium.

The goal since the beginning has been to bring a patriotic, family-friendly free event to Salisbury.

Dunn set out to find donors to help pay for the display which costs more than $25,000 each year. He was able to persuade business owners and the city government to help fund the first event, and over the next six years raised $200,000.

There is now a permanent endowment for Red White and Boom established at the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore. The fund pays a portion of the cost each year, but donations are still needed, Dunn said.

This year Pohanka Automotive/Toyota and the city of Salisbury are the main sponsors.

This year’s Red White and Boom will be held at Wicomico County Stadium across the street from the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

Nelson said there will be nine food vendors, three bounce houses and music by WBOC1025.

The Kids Kazoo Parade will be held around 8 p.m. and the fireworks will start at 9:15 p.m. This year’s event will pay tribute to Gold Star and Blue Star military families, Nelson said.

Free parking is available at the civic center and Wicomico High School lots.

The fireworks will be launched from the former Salisbury Mall property, and the site will be off limits to the public.

The rain date for the event is Friday, July 5, but the forecast for the Fourth looks good so far, with only the usual chance of July afternoon thunderstorms.

Dunn said attendees are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs. “Then just spread out and look up,” he said.

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