Last Blast of Summer
By Karlie Griffith–
Every Sunday of Labor Day weekend WEBN hosts its annual fireworks display in Cincinnati — though it is not technically in Cincinnati because WEBN launches its firework display from a barge in the middle of the Ohio River. WEBN is one of Cincinnati’s largest radio networks and hosts this annual firework display with the help of Rozzi’s Famous Fireworks and Cincinnati Bell. This event first kicked off in 1977 as a onetime event in honor of WEBN’S 10th birthday. The event was such a success that WEBN made the decision to display the fireworks every year since.
Every year nearly 500,000 people line up along the river banks of Newport, Ky and Cincinnati to watch this immaculate display of fireworks. WEBN has a screaming contest ten minutes before the firework display.
The WEBN fireworks are a longstanding tradition for not only Ohioans but individuals from all over. People from Indiana, Louisville, Lexington, and even West Virginia come to watch as the fireworks light up the sky for over 30 minutes. The Cardinal asked Ian Tracy who is a resident of Louisville about why he travels two hours just to see these fireworks.
He said, “Cincinnati is my home and always will be. I grew up watching the fireworks from the roof of my house in Newport. I never missed them and moving away isn’t going to stop that. It’s a tradition … it’s part of Cincinnati’s culture now.”
Dirk Dorsel, another Louisville resident said, “It’s simply a great time. Vendors from all over Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky set up booths … you don’t just come for the fireworks, although they are the main event, but you come for the whole experience. You come for the food, the drinks and to learn about hidden treasures of the tri-state area.”
People start to line the river banks around 8am Sunday morning so they can lay claim to the most perfect spot for viewing. Linda Blythe, a member of Alexandria UMC, goes up after church to lay claim to her spot. Blythe camps out all morning and afternoon to claim her spot between the Purple People Bridge and the Papa John’s vendor tent. She claims it is the perfect spot because no one can sit in front of her and obstruct her view. She can always find her spot because all she has to do is follow the smell of pizza. “It’s the best of both worlds. You have the perfect spot and you’re next to the pizza stand.” Blythe said.
The WEBN fireworks are the main reason many native Cincinnatians, as well as Kentuckians, return home every Labor Day weekend.
The show takes place each Labor Day weekend in Cincinnati, but visitors are advised to arrive before 7 p.m., since that is when the bridges close to traffic.