published Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Pops on the River draws crowds to Chattanooga's Coolidge Park (with video)

People watch a fireworks display from the Walnut Street Bridge and from Coolidge Park after Pops on the River on Tuesday night.
People watch a fireworks display from the Walnut Street Bridge and from Coolidge Park after Pops on the River on Tuesday night.
Photo by Allison Love.
  • Thousands attend Chattanooga's Pops on the River
    Thousands of people attended Chattanooga's Pops on the River celebration in Coolidge Park on Tuesday. The event, held in honor of July 4, featured a fireworks show, along with a concert by the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera and the Dismembered Tennesseans.


Dalton, Ga.: Heritage Point Park, 1275 Cross Plains Trail, 9:30 p.m.

Dunlap, Tenn.: Downtown courthouse square, fireworks start at dusk.

Etowah, Tenn.: L&N Depot, 727 Tennessee Ave., 9:35 p.m.

Lake Winnepesaukah: 1730 Lakeview Drive, Rossville, 10 p.m., 706-866-5681

Soddy-Daisy: Pier at Soddy Lake, Soddy Park off Dayton Boulevard, 9:45 p.m.

It was by accident that Bob Pinkerton and his wife of 50 years, Erma Pinkerton, found themselves viewing Pops on the River fireworks from the Walnut Street Bridge five years ago.

The Hixson natives couldn’t get into the Lookouts game that year, so they stood on the bridge and watched the fireworks from above the river. But it’s an accident they continue making.

“We’ve been coming every year since,” Pinkerton said. “It’s a great spot. The trees don’t block the view. I’ll let all the kids play down there while I stay up here.”

Below Pinkerton, about 25,000 folks decorated Coolidge Park on Tuesday. The usually green terrain of the park was a variety of colors of blankets, quilts and tents — some even red, white and blue.

“This is the party that the city gives itself,” Mayor Ron Littlefield said at the event.

People heeded pleas to enjoy professional fireworks shows that pose less of a fire hazard than shooting them off in yards in this drier weather.

“It is the safest way to enjoy fireworks,” said Carla Pritchard with Chattanooga Presents, which produced Pops on the River. “We work with professionals.”

Fireworks may have been the central attraction, but there were plenty other things to usher in the moonrise. Youngsters splashed around in the water park.

Music courtesy of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera was a major part of the evening.

“You have to have the whole package,” said the symphony and opera’s Executive Director Molly Sasse. “You can’t have just the fireworks or just the music. You have to have it all to make it complete.”

The first firework hushed the crowd, except for the requisite “oohs,” and “aahs.”

The rainbow-colored, heart-shaped fireworks are the best, according to 10-year-old Hixson native Katie West.

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