Weather Cancels Fireworks, But Not Maryvale Spirit

By BrieAnna Frank, Spot 127
July 04, 2014

(Photo by BrieAnna Frank - Spot 127)
A monsoon sweeps across the baseball stadium, canceling the Light Up the Sky fireworks display.
(Photo by BrieAnna Frank - Spot 127)
Children play on the field at the Maryvale Baseball Park in the early evening before the the storm arrives.

Fireworks were set to go off at Maryvale Baseball Park last night to celebrate the Fourth of July. The rain and dust storm stopped the fireworks show, but Maryvale didn't need them to come together as a community.

When you may have been thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, City of Phoenix employees were already thinking about the Fourth of July.

Planning for Maryvale’s July 3rd Light Up the Sky event began in January. City workers say budget cuts forced them to downsize the event, taking it from a citywide attraction to a community celebration.

But that may not be a bad thing, says Georganne Soberay. She’s a city recreation coordinator who helped put the event together.

“It had started to get a little bit too big. You had big name DJs out there, the crowds, It really wasn’t about a community anymore, it was a destination event," Soberay said.

But the scaled-down event still draws 17,000 people every year to the Maryvale Baseball Park. Not to mention the thousands who watch from nearby parks and businesses. Some families even climb up to their rooftops to watch the fireworks.

Tisha Webber attended the event. She says it shows Maryvale is a united community.

“Having this actually brings the community together, and people get together and get along. There’s no problems here, so it’s actually fun," Webber said.

And for the thousands who showed up, it was fun. At first. But then came that Arizona dust. Webber’s 9-year-old son wasn’t thrilled.

At first it seemed like a common monsoon storm. But as time passed, children playing on the field were told to find a seat in the stadium. Tents and games set up on the field were taken down because of the wind.

The dust storm didn’t pass. It shortly turned into a rain storm. Some families left once the drizzle started. But thousands rushed to the concourse of the stadium to stay dry. It led to good business for popcorn vendor David Getz.

“We’re still really busy, but we’re the only food vendor here," Getz said.

Although there was rain and no fireworks, Getz says just having a community gathering means a lot for Maryvale.

“I think it’s a great idea. Reach out to the community and celebrate the Fourth of July," he said.

While this year’s Light Up the Sky event didn’t go as planned, it isn’t just about fireworks. Soberay says the annual event shows a side of Maryvale that isn’t often portrayed.

“Maryvale still is a loving and caring place to live. And it’s more of an outside, third-party perception that it’s Scaryvale, not Maryvale," she said.

Preparations for next year’s event will start in January.

BrieAnna Frank is a student reporter from Spot 127, KJZZ’s Youth Media Center.