When Riverbend ends, it doesn’t fade quietly. Rather, a pyrotechnics display to rival some of the best 4th of July fireworks I’ve ever seen announces the close of the festival. This massive display causes virtually every person from miles away to descend upon Chattanooga. After all, they may charge $25 to go inside Riverbend for one evening, but the fireworks are free for all within viewing distance.
As residents of the North Shore of Chattanooga who live in a building with a roof top deck in an apartment on the 4th floor with a view of the riverfront AND who happen to be house/dog sitting for some friends who have a condo in a high rise with a club house on the 7th floor right on the riverfront, we had the unique advantage of being able to choose from a variety of great viewing locations.
However, we ended up on our own balcony. The crowds were overwhelming on the rooftops and shared balconies. I wanted to shoot and there was no room for a tripod in a crowd.
Since our visiting friends were staying at our place and we were staying at our neighbor friends’ place, I brought over as little as possible to enjoy the fireworks. For me, that means my camera, one lens, and my tripod. I decided on my 70-200mm lens having seen fireworks from our living room on many occasions. There are fireworks most Friday nights at the baseball stadium for the Lookouts, a minor league baseball game. Assuming that was representative of the fireworks we were about to see, I figured I needed at least 200mm to get much of a shot.
Boy was I wrong!
First of all, these fireworks were fired from this side of the river, MUCH closer than the baseball stadium. Second, this was a massive display of fireworks! I mean massive! We’d heard that Riverbend was not profitable and we wondered how that could be with the entry fees they were charging. Now we knew. All the money that didn’t go to the bands was going to the fireworks!
What this meant for me was I couldn’t get the fireworks to fit into my frame, so I had to pick out part of the display to shoot. I still had fun. But, I couldn’t help remembering fireworks from my childhood.
We would take a blanket to the park for the 4th of July fireworks display. One rocket would be fired and it would either explode into a glorious display or it would fizzle and die, a dud. We would clap and say “Ooooh” and “Ahhh” and then, as the sparkles were fading, the next rocket would scream into the sky. It seemed like it lasted an hour. The whole show probably used as many rockets as we saw in 3 minutes this night. It was incredible to watch, but sometimes I do long for simpler times. Plus, it would be easier to figure out what to shoot. 🙂