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Local History

Firefall '82

Firefall ‘82
News & Leader, July 5, 1982

Springfield’s first community wide Fourth of July celebration in several years went off with a boom July 4, 1982.

“Nearly 17,000 people flooded the Ozark Empire Fair grounds grandstand for ‘Firefall ‘82’, a celebration that mixed symphony music and fireworks. Several hundred more watched from outside. Crowds armed with blankets and lawn chairs ignored the heat and began arriving shortly after the gates opened at 6 p.m. Cooler-and jug-toting spectators were ordered to leave their refreshments outside.”

"Traffic snarled on all streets leading to the fairgrounds. Parking lots quickly filled at nearby Hillcrest High School and Central Bible College, while others watched from their cars lining Highway 13, Interstate 44 and streets leading to the fairground.

"The Springfield Symphony Orchestra played “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Tomorrow,” from the musical “Annie” and as darkness fell, the firework displays were orchestrated to music from Tchaikovsky’s '1812 Overture,' and 'God Bless America'.

"After the show, some people were stuck in traffic for up to an hour. Republican U.S. Senator John Danforth ran through the traffic jam handing out bumper stickers.

"The Springfield Symphony Association, who raised about 25 percent of the money, supplied the primary financial support. More than 50 other businesses and individuals also helped."

Firefall had a twenty-six year run, ending in 2008. The City of Springfield suspended the celebration due to a lack of funds during the economic recession.

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