By Kevin Wilson
They gathered together with coolers and portable chairs, 14 in all. They had come from Clovis, Portales and Amarillo — and gathered to celebrate their independence.
While in wording it might have seemed like a contradiction in terms, that’s just what one particular group did as part of its annual tradition at the Portales fireworks display.
Sidney Sparks of Amarillo and DeAna Silver of Clovis were part of a large group with the chairs and the cooler, and part of a larger group that spread out across Greyhound Arena, its parking lot, the University Computer Center parking lot and the bridge that joined them.
The pair were there to watch the firework shows like anybody else, but Silvers and Sparks were there much earlier than most. Their husbands were part of the crew launching the fireworks about 400 yards away, near the ENMU soccer practice field.
They had been there throughout the day, with the cooler and its contents as evidence.
“It’s not just an afternoon job,” Sparks said with a laugh.
Meanwhile, a smaller group continued in the fireworks tradition on the bridge. Bryant Banister, 19, and Emily Lujan, 17, sat in the sparsely-populated overpass.
“It’s like a front-row seat,” said Banister, a 2004 graduate of Portales High School who now lives in Clovis.
Banister admitted that he was more excited about the annual event when he was younger, but now admits that he comes out of tradition.
Also, Banister said it was still easier to come down to Portales than deal with traffic for Clovis’ “Smoke on the Water” show. He said that some motorists had parked cars at 1 a.m. to get the best spots.
For his Fourth of July companion, Lujan, it was a chance to celebrate independence. Lujan also gets to pretend that everything is done in her honor — she was born July 4, 1988.
While some were celebrating birthdays, others were celebrating independence — and all parties seemed satisfied.
“It’s a fun time because we all get together,” Silvers said. “It’s become a tradition.”