It was two shows in one, actually, as the City of Willoughby's fireworks show took place simultaneously at South High School. The majority of fans in the ballpark could watch the show unfolding in front of them while also keeping an eye on the colorful explosions from the Willoughby show coloring the dark sky above the first-base grandstand.
A large crowd turned out at Classic Park for the free show. After six-plus years of covering the Lake County Captains, I've got a pretty good eye for the size of crowds there. I'd say there were 7,500 people inside the ballpark and at least a couple hundred more on the plaza adjacent to the ballpark facing Route 91.
The weather was ideal and the mood in the ballpark was upbeat. The gates opened at 7 p.m. Long-time concessionaire Denise Smoley told me business had been brisk for a couple of hours leading up to the scheduled 10 p.m. start of the fireworks.
To maximize my viewing experience, I went to the end of the upper concourse along the third-base line. From that vantage point, I also saw the Fairport Mardi Gras fireworks show on the east horizon and what I think was the Kirtland fireworks show south of that.
Because I live only 1 1/3 miles from the ballpark, I rode my bike to and from the fireworks show on the bikepath that runs parallel to Route 91. On both trips I passed groups of what I assume were fellow Eastlake residents. Their mood was festive, too.
The fireworks show at Classic Park cost $16,000 to produce. The City of Eastlake put up $12,500, while Captains' ownership ponied up the other $3,500. It was money exceedingly well-spent.
David S. Glasier