ROCHESTER — As in previous years, the community couldn’t wait another day to show its pride for the nation, for both its splendor and sacrifice, as fireworks burst over the city Tuesday night.
Spectators filled the Rochester Fairgrounds during the annual Night Before the Fourth, organized by members of The Journey Baptist Church for the past four years.
Rev. Rob Willis said more than 300 volunteers from the church helped make the event successful — from before crowds filled the fairgrounds through the festivities to long after everyone left.
“Our goal is to make this a huge win for the community,” Willis said, adding church members brought and collected canned and non-perishable goods to donate to Gerry’s Emergency Food Pantry and invited participants to do the same.
“For us it’s a chance to give back,” Willis said, adding volunteers directed traffic, dressed as superheroes and even performed in the Journey Praise Band for crowds.
Lisa Ball, who helped organize the event, said church members are more than happy to work with local veterans to celebrate the nation’s Declaration of Independence.
Like many, the O’Connor family decided to come to Rochester to see fireworks and enjoy some ice cream.
“We decided to keep it local,” Thom O’Connor said, adding everything was very accessible, which was great for his wife, Shirley, they son, Caleb, 7, and their twin daughters, Peyton and Riley, both 5.
The night was also a time to celebrate for Bob Benoit and his family, who offered pulled pork sandwiches and other slow-cooked items.
Benoit, who operated Mitchell Hill Barbecue with his wife Roxanne and their children Jeremy and Ashley, said this was the first major event they cooked at and it went very successfully.
“It couldn’t be any better weather,” Benoit said.
Clad in kilts made with the National Irish Tartan, members of the Hibernian Pipes and Drums performed a patriotic salute to veterans — playing pieces in honor of all five military branches before saluting the fallen with Amazing Grace, according to piper Roy Greenleaf, of Rochester.