John Howell’s Column

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 6, 2007

Batesville’s Fourth set great precedent

What Fourth of July Fireworks we saw!

Beautiful, loud, high-flying and excellently choreographed explosives entertained us for half an hour Wednesday night, culminating Batesville’s first city-sponsored Fourth of July celebration.

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City-sponsored is not entirely correct. Though it was Mayor Jerry Autrey’s pet project, the event was paid for by the generosity of sponsors whose donations underwrote its cost. The mayor went to them, asked for their help. They responded. They are Bancorp South, Budweiser/Mississippi Distributors, Inc., Caldwell Insurance, Covenant Bank, First Security Bank, Graves Oil Co., Heafner Motors, Hugh W. “Shot” Bright, Huron Smith Oil Co., Ray Poole State Farm, Renasant Bank, Senator Nolan Mettetal, and Smith, Phillips, Mitchell, Scott and Nowak (the latter having given fits to Civic Center Director Roy Hyde in trying to fit it into the center’s front sign).

If you liked it, tell them about it. Hyde is also inviting comments through the civic center’s newly activated web site,

Already, the mayor, sponsors and the civic center director are planning for next year with children’s activities and indoor entertainment. “We got started on this year’s late,” Hyde said.

Pyro-Fire of Hernando hired an extra crew for the Batesville fireworks performance, Autrey and Hyde said. “They were booked all over the southeast,” Hyde said, by the time they were approached about the Batesville show.

Lighthorse Harry and Electric Rodeo sandwiched the Answered Prayers benefit auction with fine music and a crowd that will certainly grow as families  learn to schedule their July 4th plans around the Batesville evening event. The positive word-of-mouth generated Wednesday night will make anyone envious who was not there to see.

I drove Miss Annie-Glenn to the fireworks show. The newspaper was also a sponsor and had received parking passes that allowed us to drive up close. We could have stayed in the car, but we didn’t. Janice and Gary Blair had joined us and in the car next to us were Dan and Courtney Blair and the mutual Blair/Howell grandchildren — Hunt, Nelson and Blair. We all got out and walked closer to enjoy the evening.

On Thursday, we learned that we were among approximately 2,000 who viewed the fireworks from Civic Center grounds, plus half again that many on surrounding parking lots and roadways, Hyde said.

None were disappointed, but it was no secret who had the most fun.

Miss Annie-Glenn has always loved fireworks. If any of us children had ever doubted, that was settled on December 31, 1999, a few minutes before midnight when in her 79th year she walked out onto the front yard of her Eureka Street home to greet the new millenium by lighting her own firecrackers.

“I might not see another one,” she commented wryly, referring, of course, to another millenium.

When I arrived to pick her up for the Batesville show, she was watching the fireworks in Washington on public television. Theirs had started at 9 p.m. eastern time.

Batesville’s started shortly after 9 p.m. central. When was over, the colors and light patterns of those beautifully-controlled explosions still arched through our vision when we closed our eyes.

And Miss Annie-Glenn was undaunted the next morning even after the local curmudgeon had publically opined that if you’ve seen one fireworks show, you’ve seen them all.

“That was my first,” she said.