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July 5, 2014

Fireworks cap Fourth of July festivities

Music, dance, games, face-painting and food were among a smorgasbord of fair-like attractions in Neahwa Park on Friday, the first of two days to celebrate the Fourth of July.

“I’ve had a blast,” said Heather Tinder of Oneonta, who was with a group that included about 25 family members and friends. The parade downtown was good, said Tinder, who liked last year’s fireworks in Oneonta and returned Friday for another show.

The Hometown Fourth Festival fireworks started as scheduled at about 9:20 p.m., illuminating the sky and creating a rat-a-tat-tat show for crowds gathered in the park. The day’s festivities, organized by First Night Oneonta and sponsored by many businesses and community members, started with a Main Street parade and were to conclude with some post-fireworks music and other activities.

By 7:30 p.m., as the sun was setting, police and emergency crews reported no problems.

“It’s been a wonderful event,” Patrick Pidgeon, chief of the Oneonta Fire Department, said.

Carol Mandigo, chairwoman of the First Night Oneonta board, said last year an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people had passed through Neahwa Park during the Fourth of July festivities. This year attendance seemed to be up, according to early reports of the day’s activities, she said.

The weather was chillier and windier than expected, but people didn’t seem to mind, Mandigo said. Overall, Mandigo said, she was “absolutely thrilled” with the turnout and results of the festival by mid-evening. 

The crowds were spread throughout the parks main sections near Damaschke Field, where the Oneonta Outlaws played two free games. Families found spots for picnics, and groups of teenagers strolled among the activities. Musicians drew audiences to sit in chairs set up before the main stage.

About 25 students from Elite Dance Academy participated in the parade on Main Street and at 2 p.m. performance in the park, said Shannah Kane, an owner, choreographer and instructor with the business along with Erin O’Brien.

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