July 4th gig will return to depot

Published 12:14 pm Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Despite nearby construction and closed streets, this year’s Independence Day celebration will again be at the Levee Street Depot and include a $30,000 fireworks display. The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved paying for the show at a called meeting Tuesday morning.

Tyrone Smith — better known as Super T — has been tapped for the evening’s entertainment preceding the fireworks, which will again be fired from a barge on the Yazoo Diversion Canal.

“He looks like Richard Pryor with a Superman suit on,” said Independence Day celebration coordinator Joe Graves, also parks and recreation director. “It will be a hoot; something I think everyone will enjoy.”

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Where past Independence Day events have included symphonic performances and classical themes, Super T has three different band lineups. All are known for getting the audience on their feet with a blend of Motown, Top 40, funk and R&B covers from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Graves said Super T was booked on the recommendation of Mayor Paul Winfield, who recalled the Nashville entertainer wowing a number of fraternity and sorority events at Ole Miss, his alma mater.

Festivities on July 4th will begin at 7 p.m., with Super T to begin around 7:15 and fireworks to follow the show, which Graves said likely will run until about 9.

The contract for fireworks OK’d Tuesday is with Zambelli Fireworks Internationale of New Castle, Penn., which has more than 100 years of experience and produces about 3,500 fireworks shows nationwide each year. The price is the same amount spent on the fireworks show in recent years, but this year the city is footing more of the bill because Warren County said it does not have funds to contribute.

The Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, Brown’s Bottling Company and Ameristar Casino all have made contributions to the celebration — which with Super T and the stage rental totals about $46,000 — and the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce is helping solicit for more contributions.

The Independence Day concert and fireworks has drawn about 10,000 spectators in recent years. A downtown celebration for the 4th of July was reinstated in 2002 after a seven-year lapse in city-sponsored entertainment.

A major, ongoing water pipe rerouting project just blocks away from the depot will not require a new location, said Graves, although it has forced a move of the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market — which opens Saturday at City Front, a few blocks south of the vacant lot across from the depot where it has been located the past two years.

Work on the pipe, began last week and is expected to be completed before July 4, which falls on a Sunday. A 30-inch pipe is being routed one block around the site of a March 26 land shift via Main, Monroe and Jackson streets. The pipe is replacing a 36-inch water main thrown into jeopardy by the land shift and is vital in supplying the city’s 10,000 metered customers. Portions of Washington, Main and Jackson streets are all closed due to construction.

Additionally, bids are expected to be opened in the coming weeks on the redevelopment of the 103-year-old depot into a museum and office spaces for the VCVB and Vicksburg Main Street Program, but Graves said construction on the project is not expected to begin until after the holiday weekend. The first round of bids were rejected by the city in late April because three of four bidders did not follow guidelines and the fourth came in over budget.

The city’s Independence Day celebration has been a success the past two years despite a number of last-minute changes to fireworks plans. In 2008, city officials scrambled to pull together a fireworks show days before July 4th after a truck bringing the fireworks from Pennsylvania — not from the same company hired Tuesday — had an accident in Missouri in which most of the pyrotechnics equipment and fireworks were destroyed. The company eventually got some replacement fireworks to the city just in time for the show, which was briefly canceled by the city and then announced as a go on July 3.

Last year, a large tree on the canal bank fell on the fireworks barge just moments before the show was to begin. Luckily, no one aboard was injured, and the show went on after a short delay while the tree was removed and the pyrotechnics settings were adjusted.

Along with the concert and fireworks at the Levee Street Depot, the Independence Day celebration in Vicksburg annually includes events at the Vicksburg National Military Park and a number of patriotic concerts presented by the Four Seasons of The Arts. Details of such events have not yet been announced.

Also Tuesday, the board:

• OK’d a resolution designating Vicksburg Emergency Management Director Anna Booth to make a request for state reimbursement via the State Mutual Aid Compact for the city’s payment of 13 hours of overtime to five firefighters who assisted the Yazoo City department the day after an April 24 tornado.

In closed session, the board:

• OK’d one new hire in the parks and recreation department, and discussed one potential litigation matter.