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Red, White and Boom crowds not a blast for everyone

Courtesy of Red, White &Boom

Downtown Columbus bustles with traffic as the city floods with hundreds of thousands of people gathering to watch the annual fireworks display in July.

The 32nd annual Red, White and Boom is scheduled for July 3 with fireworks starting at 10 p.m. this year. The event has drawn more than 250,000 people to a two-and-a-half square mile area of downtown Columbus in the past.

For fireworks lovers not too keen on crowds, there are other ways to see the show.

Huntington Park will host Ballpark Boom for its fourth year, an event that opens up the stadium during the fireworks so that people can enjoy the show and avoid the higher-traffic areas of the city.

People can sit in the grandstand and listen to music provided this year by the Street Players and McGuffey Lane. Shortly before 10 p.m., people are led onto the in-field to watch the fireworks display from the field level.

“The most ideal location appears to be the left field side of our scoreboard,” said assistant general manager Mark Warren.

After the fireworks, the band will give an encore performance for 20 or 30 minutes to give attendees time to relax and for traffic outside the stadium to subside.

Concession stands will be open for the event. Cost of admission is $5.

While Ballpark Boom attempts to keep crowds more contained, Mike Collins, the executive director of Red, White and Boom, said there will still be a large crowd and heavy traffic at the stadium.

“It’s more about anywhere you can have a view of the riverfront even if you can’t see the (Scioto) river,” Collins said.

Other possible locations to watch the fireworks include Confluence Park Restaurant, Goodale Park and Lou Berliner Park.

A possible workers strike is planned for July 2, when more than 600 Central Ohio Transit Authority workers are thought to be potentially walking off the job to protest contractual negotiations with the company, as reported by The Columbus Dispatch. The bus service is a popular option for attendees traveling to and from the downtown area, servicing more than 26,000 patrons last year for the event. COTA had planned to circulate 200 extra busses along with special shuttles that night, but the Dispatch reported that the bus system at large would shut down in case of a strike, aside from exclusive disability transit.

To avoid any downtown crowds, some people who would rather watch the display from the comforts of home.

Red, White and Boom has been broadcasted by NBC4 since 1985 – four years after the fireworks first began – and the station has since become the only television station to provide live coverage, said multimedia promotions manager of WCMH-NBC4 Janna Buckey. This year, the show will broadcast from 9 p.m. -11 p.m., both by television and streaming live online.

Collins said that whether they choose to watch the fireworks in person, on television, online or listen by radio, more than 1 million people are expected to tune in to this year’s show.

“We are the largest show in the Midwest by open area and viewing audience because it’s the highest rated television … and radio show in the entire summer season,” Collins said.

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