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Fireworks draw thousands downtown

15-minute show caps famliy Fourth of July outing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Thousands of people armed with folding chairs, picnic dinners, coolers and sunscreen began lined both sides of the St. Johns River Monday evening to watch the area's largest Fourth of July fireworks show.

At 9:45 p.m., 3,000 pounds of fireworks, including 6,000 rounds of mortars, were ignited during the 15-minute display. That kind of firepower requires a lot of planning.

The fireworks were assembled over the last week at Metropolitan Park and were loaded onto two flatbed trucks and launched from the top of the Acosta Bridge.

"It's all scripted, basically,” Pyro Shows area coordinator Philip Gibbens said. “We look at the cue log and go from that. It tells us the layout of the show. They'll want certain fireworks to go off at certain times and things like that."

Keeping the crowd cool

One family that lives the American dream ever day through their entrepreneurial spirit found a welcoming audience among the spectators. Cari and Reese Chandler were out selling in the hot crowd selling cold treats. 

"I thought the crowd wasn't going to be out here until about 6 or 7 o'clock. We've already been bombarded and we're very, very grateful," said Reese Chandler, owner of The Icee Spot, said before 6 p.m.

The husband and wife team said that on a good day they make up to $1,400. They figure the Fourth of July was going to be a good day.

Some people didn't line the river, but spent their evening in it, including Joe Buccellato, who now lives on his boat.

"I am so excited. I've always wanted to enjoy fireworks, but traffic is always an issue," Buccellato said. "It's beautiful. It's amazing."

During Channel 4's two-hour prime-time special Monday night, the three finalists in WJXT's Oh Say Can You Sing contest performed live.

PERFORMANCES: Jonathan Brooks | Will Harden | LeeAnn Parker

In live, uSay voting, viewers selected Jonathan Brooks to sing "The Star Spangled Banner" just before the fireworks show began.

While downtown Jacksonville may have had the biggest show in the area, thousands more enjoyed fireworks at Jacksonville beach, St. Augustine, Green Cove Springs and several locations in southeast Georgia.