WHEELING - People waved fans to create a breeze, unfurled umbrellas to block the sunshine and ate ice pops to cool off enough to enjoy a sizzling Independence Day celebration at Wheeling's Heritage Port on Wednesday.
The explosion of colorful fireworks was preceded by performances from the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra and bluegrass band Johnny Staats and the Delivery Boys. The entertainment was likely a welcome respite for those who have gone days without modern entertainment in their homes because of a massive power outage that began Friday due to a severe storm.
Mary Roberts of Wheeling said it was her first time attending the celebration at Heritage Port. She was invited by fellow Petroplus Tower resident Millie Dennis.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Twin brothers Gino Gentile, left, and Giulio Gentile, right, eat ice pops with their cousin, Alex Marinelli, who is visiting from Savannah, Ga., during Wheeling’s Independence Day celebration.
"I've lived in Wheeling for 12 years and never seen it," Roberts said, noting she is originally from Oil City, Pa. "She talked me into coming down."
Dennis said she enjoys events at the port including the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival, slated July 27-29.
"I think it's beautiful. It's not as big as the Italian Festival, but it's nice. We can listen to music and enjoy ourselves," Dennis said. "I'm glad it didn't rain - it's a nice evening."
Wheeling resident Starla Ice brought her children Akron, 10 months old, and Gracie, 2, to see the fireworks. She was accompanied by her mother Sarah Ice. They typically watch the display from Wheeling Island. But since it was Akron's first time, they decided to view them at the port.
"We hope it doesn't rain and that it cools down a little bit," Sarah Ice said.
It was also the first time for Robert and Debbie Dickson of Cadiz to attend Wheeling's celebration. Robert Dickson is a Navy veteran of the Vietnam war.
"Being a veteran, it means a lot. It started long before we were here," Dickson of the holiday's significance. "We come down for different events like the (Wheeling Heritage Port Sternwheel Festival). There's nothing but rain at home. ... Happy Fourth of July."