Celebrating Independence

Thousands turn out for fireworks extravaganza at Appling Lake

by Aarron Fleming
The Bartlett Express

On Friday night, hundreds of Bartlett residents gathered in front of Appling Lake to participate in the annual Fireworks Extravaganza that was canceled last year because of the pandemic.

To welcome residents back to the cherished community event, several food trucks were on-site, including the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile that has recently been making rounds in the Memphis area.

Some vendors were also selling novelty American flag-covered attire and light-up swords for children.

Musical performances were given by the Bartlett Community Concert Band and local musical duo, Keith and Bethany Page.

A small classic car show, which has typically been a staple of the event, was held as well for those who wanted to show off their sweet rides and talk shop with other local gear heads.

While the actual fireworks blasted off at around 9:00 p.m., other activities at the event started at 6:00 p.m., giving community members almost three hours to relax and get ready for the fireworks display.

Bartlett’s fireworks show was one of several events held by the local municipalities in Memphis during the fourth of July weekend.

Each were canceled last year, and each brought them back in a big way this year.

Collierville held its fireworks show the day after Bartlett and kept the sky lit up for almost twenty whole minutes, according to the Daily Memphian.

Collierville’s Independence Day Celebration was hosted in H.W. Cox Park and similar to Bartlett featured food trucks and entertainment for almost three hours prior to the actual lighting of the fireworks.

Keith and Bethany Page, who performed at Bartlett’s event, are a local musical duo that serves as the house band at Alfred’s on Beale and as music directors at St. Louis Catholic Church in Memphis.

Kevin Paige, a Memphis native, is no stranger to getting the crowd moving, having toured as an opening act for Debbie Gibson. Kevin & Bethany had a long-running stand as the house band at Alfred’s on Beale Street and Kevin Paige released a self-titled album in 1989 and with two Top 40 hits, “Don’t Shut Me Out”(#18) & “Anything I Want” (#29).

As a group, they play classic hits from years past, including anything from Marvin Gaye to AC/DC.

Kevin Paige, who was a star in the 1980s and 1990s, wrote two hits with Chrysalis Records and has produced CDs and written songs for artists like Aaron Carter and Avalon.

Kevin and Bethany Paige’s covers, however, weren’t the oldest thing at the event.

The classic car show held at the event featured several hotrods including mustangs, a first-year Ford Bronco, and even a suped-up pickup from the 1990s.

Doug’s alien driving companion. He said that it came as a gift from a friend and has now had a place in two of his vehicles.

The black and green 1996 Ford Ranger sported LED lights underneath, a sticker that reads “Fresh” in bold, capital letters stretching the length of the front windshield, and a little green alien hugging the passenger seat headrest for an out of this world driving experience.

“Oh, I’ve had him forever,” the truck’s owner, Doug, said of the alien, “I rode around with him in another vehicle that I had and that vehicle kind of had a bad ending, so he just came along.”

Doug also said that he gets a lot of comments on the LED lights underneath the truck, but that he hasn’t had a chance to show them off very much.

“There’s not too many night events,” he said, “so this is kind of perfect for that.”

When the time came to watch the fireworks, those present at the event made their way to their lawn chairs, blankets, or just open spots in the grass to watch the sky light up with red, white, and blue, and even pink and green.

Abstract designs made by the small explosions as well as smiley faces could be seen high in the sky over Appling Lake and the surrounding area.

The air was filled with smoke, but the chance to gather for a proper fourth of July celebration was a breath of fresh air for everyone at the event.

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