BILLINGS — Billings was treated to a bigger and longer fireworks display at the 19th annual Celebrate Freedom event hosted by Harvest Church honoring Independence Day, organizers said Sunday the show went off without a hitch.
"People liked the location. They said Metra was a good, central location. They were bumbed that we couldn’t have the games, food and events up at the park and we were too. But we are just thankful that we were able to do the fireworks and make it a bit bigger and better and just gift it to our community," said Rachel Woosley, Harvest Church For Billings Director.
The fireworks display is usually held at Castlerock Park, but was shifted to MetraPark to allow for better social distancing among spectators, Woosley said.
“Once we saw how things were progressing with the virus we were like, okay Metra is going to be the place this year and we’re just going to have the fireworks. We got it approved and we poured all of our resources into making it a really great community event," Woosley said.
Todd Richenbach, owner of PYRO F/X, put on the display which was ignited from the upper MetraPark parking lot. DiA events provided the sound system to broadcast music that was synced up with the show.
People parked their cars for free in the other MetraPark parking lots and around other businesses in the vicinity to watch the show.
Woosley said the show was about 10 minutes longer this year and ran a total of 35 minutes. The fireworks were also able to go higher this year because spectators weren't located as close to the display as they would have been in CastleRock Park.
Woosley said Richenbach usually uses five inch mortar shells in Castlerock Park. At the Metra, he used six to eight inch mortars, which fly higher in the air, providing a better opportunity for more to see the show, Woosley said.
“I didn’t make it over to Lockwood, but I’m sure they had a great view too. It was a more central location, so more people were able to view it this year, which was great and something our community needed. Finally being able to get out and celebrate," Woosley said.
Metrapark General Manager Bill Dutcher said Sunday that he saw people beginning to fill the parking lots off MetraPark property around 5 p.m. The MetraPark lots started filling up around 8 p.m., he said.
Dutcher said the Lockwood Fire Department was situated near the display, ready to spring into action. There were a few perimiter fires around the fencline of the parking lot, but nothing that got out of hand, Dutcher said.