• Photo slideshow: College Home Run Derby and World-Herald fireworks.
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There was no shortage of “oohs,” “ahhs” and bursts of applause from the packed crowd at Wednesday night's 29th annual World-Herald fireworks show.
Outfitted with cameras and more than a few star-spangled T-shirts, attendees snapped photos and cheered as bursts of red, green, blue, gold and purple showered the sky above TD Ameritrade Park with sparks.
Hundreds descended on the park early for the fireworks and preceding TD Ameritrade College Home Run Derby, dragging coolers to tailgate outside the park or grabbing frosty beers from area bars.
Council Bluffs residents Darla and Jim Casady brought their prized Chevy pickup, painted red, white and blue, to a car show and tailgate party outside the Old Mattress Factory.
“You've got a car show, you can hang out with your friends and there's fireworks later,” Jim Casady said. “You can't beat it.”
Others came later, there for one thing and one thing only: the snap, crackle, pop and boom of 6,000 pounds of fireworks.
“He's probably not going to sleep later,” Omaha resident Hannah Pospisal said as she pointed to her excited 7-year-old son, Evan.
This year's 22-minute show by Iowa-based J&M Displays was bigger and better than ever, with more shells launched for a bigger “wow” factor.
The launch pad for the fireworks was moved to lot D east of the stadium, farther away than usual, allowing more powerful shells to be launched and preventing debris from drifting into the stadium. On average, six to 12 shells exploded across the sky simultaneously, dazzling onlookers.
“I like the red, white and blue ones best, of course,” said Mary Lou Keitges, who wore a flag T-shirt that said “Just try to burn this one.”
The official attendance count inside the stadium was 23,731, a sellout.
Vietnam War veteran Henry Kirchhoff, the color guard commander for American Legion Post 374 in Millard, came out to pay tribute to fellow veterans and the patriotic values that mark Independence Day.
“I'm celebrating the Fourth of July and all the veterans that have served,” he said. “And I'm marching in the Ralston parade tomorrow. It's a big holiday for me.”
This is the third year the new ballpark has hosted the Fourth of July fireworks. There were several people who lamented the move from the now-demolished Rosenblatt Stadium.
“I liked Rosenblatt better, just because I grew up with it in the '70s and '80s,” Pospisal said.
Others celebrated the new stadium and new traditions born there.
“Oh, I remember my mom and dad taking us to Rosenblatt and they had greasy pig races,” DeDe Simes said, laughing. “But I like it right here. You don't have to pay someone to sit in their yard.”
As the cymbals of the “1812 Overture” crashed, the fireworks display hit its grand finale, eliciting whoops and chants of “U-S-A” from the crowd.
World-Herald staff writer Lizzie Johnson contributed to this report.