Nothing like fireworks to put the "burn" in Burnside.
July 4 might have actually been this past Thursday, but the weekend in Pulaski County was filled with plenty more festivities in all ends of the county, far north to far south and other points here and there. But few places were hopping quite as much as the City of Burnside, which enjoyed a big night Friday with its 2019 Independence Day Celebration.
While much of the action took place in Cole Park -- where the Catdaddies musically entertained the crowd, kids ran around waving glow-in-the-dark toy swords, and curious onlookers could get a look at the Liberty Nature Center's collection of birds (including a live bald eagle), but there was plenty going on up on Main Street too, with music by Ocean, more food trucks, facepainting, and colorful characters in costume like movie star of the moment Spider-Man.
The sidewalks were full, the parking lots were packed, and the traffic was in a long line coming down South U.S. 27 as Burnside police worked to get everyone through and into the event safely. But once there, there was plenty of fun to be had.
"We're well-pleased with it; we've got a good turnout," said Burnside Mayor Robert Lawson early in the evening, about 7 p.m. "Right now, we're larger than we've ever been."
And the numbers only got larger. Burnside Tourism Director Frank Crabtree, Jr., said that based on all the numbers the city was able to gather, including boats on the lake, at least 10,000 people came out for the Independence Day Celebration. The crowd grew throughout the day, with Cole Park packed after dark when the lengthy fireworks show began at 10 p.m.
"Everybody seems really happy," said Crabtree. "It's actually gone really smooth."
Not everyone was happy; Patriot, the Liberty Nature Center's bald eagle, was "agitated," according to handler Dylan Norton, a Southwestern High School alum and junior at Eastern Kentucky University. But people enjoyed seeing Patriot, the symbol of the United States, as well as other winged creatures on display at the event.
Norton has been working with the Liberty Nature Center since he was in the eighth grade as a volunteer, and worked his way up, developing the skills necessary to handle a difficult bird like the eagle.
"You learn a lot about how to work with animals, how to treat animals, how to train them. You learn a lot about responsibility," he said of his time with the nature center, which rescues and rehabilitates animals like the eagle. "As far as holding them, (the eagle) is the most challenging bird. They're larger, they have a lot more talon strength, and they're just typically more contrary."
The symbol of America being contrary fits right in with the revolutionary spirit of the holiday, which was a warm one. Though it was hot outside, with temperatures up close to 90, the weather was perfect, with no rain or lightning in sight for once this past week. That allowed for a picture-perfect fireworks show that evening.
Bobby Clue, executive director of the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, was on hand enjoying the show with many others, showing that it wasn't just Burnside's event -- it was a celebration for all of Pulaski County and Lake Cumberland.
"I think this is incredible," said Clue at the event. "I think it's great to see as much diversity as possible, and it's great to see people celebrating the Fourth of July in all four corners of our community."
Clue said that Lawson, Crabtree and others involved did a "great job" in putting on the event Friday night.
"It's just a lot of progress I'm seeing all over our community," he said.