In with a tune, out with a bang

Jul. 05, 2014 @ 01:36 AM

The American Tobacco Campus was filled to the brim Friday night with concert goers as they looked for a prelude to what many deemed the main attraction – fireworks.

But even before the lights went down and the fireworks went up, many families and Durham visitors were relaxing and taking in the atmosphere of the ATC. Many packed into the area under the Lucky Strike water tower with lawn chairs and blankets. Youngsters were able take their shoes of and soak their feet in the water running around the area, others danced with parents and siblings. They could hear the sounds of the AJ Ghent Band and Mickey Mills and Steel right up until the fireworks let loose from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

For Teyona Barkley and her family, coming the ATC is a tradition. This year though, they changed it up and decided to skip the ball park and stay outside.

It’s also a time to honor family members who have served their country.

“We’re a military family,” she said. “We’re very patriotic. We have lots of family members who have served.”

Prior to coming out and listening to the live jazz music, their family had a cookout and went swimming. Kayla Sims said the cookout with the family was one of her favorite parts of the day.

But, being able to come out and celebrate in a peaceful setting was important to Dontae Barkley.

“(It’s a time) to enjoy the city and the fellowship with the people,” he said. “It’s a good, peaceful thing.”

Their family was also anticipating the fireworks as the night approached. Their young daughter, Kelis Barkley, said she looking forward to being able to see the rainbow fireworks illuminate the sky.

The celebration at the ATC had the feel of an open-air music festival going for it, and for some crowd goers, that atmosphere keeps them coming back.

Katie Paul of Burlington was one of the visitors. She’s been attending the celebration for three years, and she brought her niece, Crista Baldwin, with her. Baldwin was visiting from Los Angeles and enjoyed the laid back feel of the concert before the fireworks.

“It’s cool, I like the scenery (of ATC),” she said.

Paul said she loves being able to come and just have a relaxing time.

“I like the atmosphere,” she said. “I enjoy it.”

For the Almario family of Durham, being able to celebrate the Fourth of July in the city’s downtown area keeps them connected to the city.

“We really like how the downtown area has grown,” Brandi Almario said.

It also helps that it’s close to their children’s school.

They said they like the concert, but were a little disappointed in the lack of activities for their young children, but that didn’t stop them from taking the time to celebrate the holiday.

“Our roots are in America, we should celebrate (it),” Jojo Almario said.

As the night wrapped up, some crowd members moved their lawn chairs and blankets out toward Blackwell Street, toward Diamond View Park to get a clear glimpse of the show, other went right into the ball park. Other onlookers parked their cars on greenways on the Durham Freeway to catch the bursts of colors.

Luckily though, if you missed the fireworks, there’s another chance tonight after the 7:05 game.