Albert Lea fireworks display packs a punch

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 5, 2007

By Tim Engstrom and Geri McShane, staff editors

It seemed like the whole town and then some lined the shore of Fountain Lake on Wednesday night to watch Albert Lea&8217;s Fourth of July fireworks display.

Others watched from their boats. Starboard and port lights of red and green decorated the water like some sort of summertime Christmas. The scene was set against a fading orange sky, and when that color turned azure and cobalt, the show began.

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It was the first year watching the fireworks for new Albert Lea residents Brad and Laura Hickman.

&8220;I thought they were great,&8221; Brad said.

Eleven-year-old Kaitlin Raatz particularly liked the large number of big booms during the show. Her aunt, Dawn Raatz, said she really liked the finale.

Colton Johnson, 17, and Desi Thurman, 14, found a spot on the shore at Fountain Lake Park moments before the fireworks started.

The fireworks display was better than last year and better than what he has seen in other cities recently, Johnson said.

Playing in the gazebo at Fountain Lake Park during daylight and twilight, the Albert Lea Community Band greeted people coming to stake out viewing spots. They played &8220;Stars and Stripes Forever,&8221; among other songs.

Amelia Holcombe, 17, plays flute in the band. She said she played with the Community Band last Fourth of July and at Christmas. The band has members from 16 and 84.

&8220;It&8217;s nice to play with a more mature sound. It makes me want to continue playing my instrument,&8221; she said.

People strolled across Fountain Street to buy popcorn and other snacks from vendors in the Water Street parking lot.

You could hear the whole town gabbing, but when the fireworks started, the cacophony diminished to a hush, albeit with whoops and hollers at the impressive moments.

Hundreds of spectators lined the shores of Edgewater Bay Wednesday afternoon to take in the Bayside Skiers&8217; annual Fourth of July Show. Even more watched the show from boats on the water.

This year&8217;s show, &8220;Bayside High,&8221; provides all the typical drama a high school setting provides &8212; except on water. The show opens with an assembly of the high school introducing the new foreign exchange student, Heidi Skiswell from Switzerland, to the school. She wanted to come to Albert Lea&8217;s Bayside High School to learn more about water skiing and to have a chance to be selected for the ultimate Bayside High Pyramid Team. The show walks through the school year, including the homecoming football game, the fall musical, wrestling season, track, prom and finally, graduation and presentation of the final pyramid.

Along with the pyramids, the crowd saw all the acts it has come to expect &045; barefoot, conventional and strap doubles, trios, wakeboard, trick, ballet lines, swivel skiing, jump and more.

Sheila Kermes of Mankato was visiting her mother, Marlene Behle, and took in the show with her family. &8220;I can see a lot of work goes into this,&8221; Kermes said of the show. &8220;I admire them.&8221;

Eleanor Fethke of rural Alden arrived early to get a spot in the shade. She didn&8217;t make it to a show last year, but had the year before and liked what she saw, so she came again.

&8220;It&8217;s been a good show,&8221; she said of &8220;Bayside High.&8221;

Ali Granahan, a former member of the Bayside Skiers, came from Castle Rock, Colo., to see the show.

&8220;I like the theme,&8221; she said, adding she wished she were out skiing with the team. &8220;Once you leave, you never want to stop coming back.&8221;

Jared Hendricks of Owatonna, another former team member, echoed her sentiments. He was on hand to watch his brother, Levi, ski with the team.

While Colorado is a long way to travel to see a ski show, there were those who came even a greater distance than Granahan.

Torunn Nelson of New Richland, a native of Norway, brought her friends, -yvind and Hilde -lst&191;rn and their children, Kristin and Joakim, who still live in Norway, to the show.

They hadn&8217;t seen anything like a water ski show in Norway, Hilde said. &8220;It&8217;s wonderful, and the colors of the costumes are beautiful.&8221;

Those who missed the holiday show can still take in &8220;Bayside High&8221; throughout the summer.

Shows continue each Thursday

&045; including tonight &045; at 7 p.m. Shows continue through Labor Day.