Raleigh fireworks canceled: Thousands left confused after rain-shortened July 4 show at Dix Park

Raleigh fireworks canceled: Thousands left confused after rain-shortened July 4 show at Dix Park

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA (WTVD) — People were left confused Thursday night after Raleigh’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration was suddenly halted when the crowd was asked to evacuate.

“They said we were cancelling, we were leaving… that’s unfair to me,” said one person who attended the Dix Park event.

Jaden Tapia and his mother Stephanie traveled to Raleigh from Fayetteville to see the fireworks. She said her mother is in town visiting for the holidays.

“This is what I came from California for… she planned all this and this is what happened,” Tapia said.

Rain continued in Raleigh shortly after 9 p.m., forcing the city to delay fireworks.

Shortly before 9:30 p.m. (which was the scheduled time for the fireworks show to begin), an announcement from the event’s DJ informed the crowd that the fireworks show was canceled due to rain and that everyone in the park should go home.

But then, without warning, fireworks began going off shortly before 9:45 p.m. The fireworks show lasted several minutes, but was nowhere near the length of the original planned show.

The City of Raleigh confirmed to ABC11 at 10:30 p.m. that the abbreviated fireworks show would be the only fireworks show authorized by the city this year.

Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin sent the following statement to ABC11 at 11:05 p.m.:

“The City’s Fourth of July fireworks show was not the grand spectacle we had planned. We experienced a rain delay and the threat of lightning. Out of an abundance of caution, we paused the show. When the rain subsided and the lightning posed no threat, we made the decision to continue. Technical difficulties cut the show short. The fireworks will not be rescheduled, but we appreciate everyone who came out to celebrate the Fourth of July.”

The City of Raleigh’s initial contingency plans for what to do if weather caused problems at the event were to postpone the entire fireworks show until July 5, when it would air during a special broadcast on ABC11 without an in-person audience at Dix Park.

During the confusion that ensued as Dix Park was evacuated, the only line of communication about the status of the show came through the park’s loudspeakers. Neither of the decisions mentioned in Baldwin’s statement — pausing the show or restarting it — were communicated to ABC11 until more than an hour after the event.

WATCH: Shortened July 4th fireworks in Raleigh

Putting on a smile

Families like Tasha Smith and her daughter, Monique, tried to stay positive in the face of that night’s events.

“Yeah, it’s wonderful. I was looking forward to it and I tried to plan for it,” she said. “I wanted to come with my 5-year-old son to do something… it was a nice event where we could put our blankets down and relax and spend time with family.”

The same goes for Alan Caille, his wife and 14-month-old daughter, who moved to North Carolina from Massachusetts last week.

“This is the best country there is… look what I have thanks to this country,” Caille said.

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