Rehoboth fireworks visitors praise small, family atmosphere

McGuiness: It ran like a well-oiled machine
Part-time Rehoboth Beach residents Arme and Jeanne Jerfsten stake out their spot on Rehoboth Avenue in anticipation of the July 4 fireworks show. The Jerfstens, who also have a house and work in New Jersey, were attending for the fourth year, the last three with Arme, a native of Sweden, as an American citizen. BY RYAN MAVITY
July 9, 2013

Not much has changed in Rehoboth Beach’s annual fireworks show, and for those who have been coming for years, that’s a good thing.

Kevin Killian of Milford, a Navy veteran, has been coming to Rehoboth for seven years.

“It’s a small-town celebration,” he said. “Six of the seven years have been pretty good. There was one year when we sat here in the pouring rain. It’s all good.”

Arme and Jeanne Jerfsten, part-time Rehoboth residents who also live in New Jersey, were in town for their fourth fireworks show.

“It’s just a good, small-town atmosphere,” Jeanne said. “It’s fun. We have a ritual now: we park and we go to early dinner at Fins, then we come down with our chairs and wait for the fireworks.”

For Arme, a native of Sweden who became a naturalized American citizen three years ago, July 4 is a celebration of America’s independence. “When ‘we’ get rid of the English,” he said with a laugh.

Gumboro residents Sharie and Timmy Rogers have been coming to with their three children for eight years.

“They love the loud noise, but they like to play on the beach while the fireworks are going off,” Sharie said. “It’s a time to sit back and be thankful for our country and everyone who fights for it.”

For Rehoboth Beach Main Street, which has been sponsoring the fireworks show for 17 years, there is no sense messing with a good thing.

“It ran like a well-oiled machine,” Main Street fireworks committee chairwoman Kathy McGuiness said. “We were very pleased, and the best part was the weather.”

The day was marred by a fatal traffic accident in Dewey Beach, but Rehoboth Police Chief Keith Banks said there were no major incidents in Rehoboth. Several citations were issued for disorderly conduct as a result of people who had too much to drink, but Banks said this year there were fewer complaints about traffic congestion than in the past, and that traffic was back to normal at 12:30 a.m., about three hours after the fireworks started.

McGuiness estimated the crowd at 80,000 to 100,000, typical attendance for the fireworks when the weather is good. She said the crowd heeded the advice of organizers and got into town early using the DART Park and Ride service and the buses provided by the Kiwanis and Main Street. For the latter, McGuiness said the Kiwanis parked 850 cars in the grass lot next to County Bank on Route 1.

The beach around Rehoboth Avenue had begun to fill by 6 p.m. for the 9:15 p.m. fireworks show, put on by Zambelli Fireworks. The crowd leaned heavily towards families, with plenty of American flag-themed apparel on display.

Despite the many fireworks veterans, there were at least a few experiencing the 20-minute show for the first time.

The Levers of Dover – mom Amanda, father Kenny and children Scarlet, Alana and Tristan – said they came down to give the kids a chance to see fireworks at the beach for the first time, and for vacation time.

Greg and Shinicka Quail of Smyrna, also saw the fireworks for the first time with their youngest daughter. Shinicka said the Fourth of July was a chance to “celebrate our country’s independence, barbecues, fun, family.”

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