2017-07-12 / Editorials

Don Lively

FIRE AWAY

So, there I was standing in the parking lot, alone, wondering if I was once again going to see one of my events rained out.

In my real job, the one that pays the freight, not the one where I get to scribble down my weekly thoughts, I am called on to plan events that are designed to do two things.

Number one in my book is to entertain. To provide experiences that folks will talk about for some time to come. Social happenings that neighbors will tell other neighbors about, thereby creating what journalists sometimes refer to as "buzz".

The second reason is to get people to take notice of our town and to promote it as a great place to shop and to dine.

I've had some successes.

Folks seem to like what we've done over the past five years as far as events are concerned.

But there's been a rather bizarre sidelight to this particular aspect of my work.

Rain.

It's not an exaggeration to say that at least half of the events that I've planned since I began this gig have been affected by wet weather with several having been postponed, moved indoors or cancelled outright.

Some of the members of my board of directors, only half jokingly, refer to me as "Rain Man".

Farmers love me.

Baseball coaches hate me.

Rain was on my mind that day in the parking lot. It hadn't rained a drop yet but it was predicted that we'd get some precipitation throughout the day. Now, granted, I consider weather forecasters in our neck of the woods to be about as reliable as witch doctors, with all due respect to both professions.

I prayed for clear weather.

About that time another car drove into the lot. It was a news channel car. A young lady reporter had tracked me down. She wanted to interview me about the event, our local Fourth of July fireworks show. I was totally unprepared to be interviewed in front of a TV camera but also totally unwilling to miss an opportunity to promote my city, so, I agreed even though I was keeping a close eye on the approaching clouds. I took a few seconds to straighten the collar on my very chic and photogenic aloha shirt, attempted to smooth down my windblown hair, a totally wasted effort, and propped my ever present Ray-Bans smartly on top of my head.

I was as ready as I was going to get.

I bragged to the camera about our city and our county and explained that every penny we spent on the fireworks show was raised from our local citizens and businesses. No government funds are used. I also got to expound on how patriotic our local citizenry is and how the show, while fun and exciting, is also an expression of our love of America.

Yes, I bragged, but every word was true.

Then, after the interview was completed, I went right back to fretting about the weather.

My worry was well founded.

An hour later, still alone in the parking lot, my truck was being pelted with hard rain, thunder was booming in every direction and lightening was snapping straight overhead.

But then, as quickly as it arrived, it was gone.

I contacted the team who actually shoot the fireworks and we agreed that the show would go on.

Long before the show was to start cars began to arrive with folks coming to claim their viewing spots. Two hours before dark thirty, the official start time, the lot was already full as were lots all over the adjoining areas. One of my partners-in-crime was cranking out music and another was selling hot dogs. We had dance competitions and for a small donation to the event folks could request a song.

It was Americana at its finest.

We'd worked out the best time and the best way to signal the first bursts and just seconds before I made that call, as if to remind me Who was really in charge, about fifteen seconds of rain fell.

And then quit.

Fire away, boys!

They did.

The show lit up the sky for nearly a half hour and finished with a perfect grand finale to the strains of Lee Greenwood singing "I'm Proud To Be An American".

As soon as it was over we heard hoots and hollers and applause from all over the area.

We'd pulled it off.

And then it really rained.

The farmers loved it.

So did I.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin' At The Dixie Moon, and, South O' Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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