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Red, white and boom: Residents get patriotic at Longview fireworks display

By Sherry Koonce skoonce@news-journal.com
July 4, 2012 at 10 p.m.


Longview skies exploded in a prism of light Wednesday, illuminating revelers who came out to celebrate Independence Day with a bang.

"We do this every year; sit in the same area, come with our family," said Cindy Jolley, 49, of Longview.

Along with her husband, Kenneth, 52, and about 15 more relatives, the Jolley Clan, as they called themselves, watched the city's annual fireworks display from their front row seat at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center.

The Jolleys arrived, just as they do every year, a couple of hours before dark-thirty, the magical time when the first volley of fireworks lights up the night sky.

Maude Cobb parking lots were filled to near-capacity, while others parked at businesses up and down Cotton Street to get a glimpse of the holiday display.

While waiting for the fireworks, guests were treated with the Fourth of July Veterans Ride parade, featuring among others, veterans, Boy Scouts, motorcycles and police on horseback.

Neil Patel, 40, and about 12 friends - all from the Gujarati region of India, brought a picnic spread of spicy food to enjoy while they watched the parade and waited on the display to begin.

"Some of us are here for the first time; others have been here before. I came last year. We like this spot because we can spread our food out," Patel said. "It's a good gathering and an awesome show."

Freddie Wallace, 48, and his wife, Rosslum, 30, both of Longview, come to Maude Cobb every year - it's a tradition.

This year they brought three little nieces with them to enjoy the show.

"I've been every year, unless it's raining," Freddie Wallace said.

First-timers Stephen Stogner, 49, and his wife, Wanda, 41, moved to Longview nine months ago when he was transferred to East Texas for employment. At Maude Cobb, the couple enjoyed the evening with their family visiting from Mississippi, sister Dora Pittman, 32, and brother-in-law, Ray Pittman, 54.

"No matter where we are, we get together every year on the Fourth, and look for a fireworks display," Dora Pittman said. "We researched the web and found out this is the biggest in East Texas, so we're real excited."

For Carrie Ann Wiser, 43, and her husband Aaron, 51, the trip from neighboring Marshall was worth the drive.

"We drove over because this is such a large display, and so beautiful. I just feel so patriotic and proud to be American when that first firework goes up and lights the sky. This is so traditional, the best way to spend the Fourth," Carrier Ann Wiser said.

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