For Gaston County Sheriff, fireworks is a family tradition

Dallas fireworks started as a family celebration

DALLAS, NC (WBTV) - Thousands of people flocked to downtown Dallas Monday night for the fireworks show.

It's not unusual for large crowds to show up for the event. Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger says his pyrotechnic shows have lasted as long as an hour in years past.

"This started some 40 years ago in the fields beside by daddy's house," explained Cloninger Monday night.

The sheriff grew up in Dallas and said his family has been running the fireworks shows for decades. This year, over $7,000 worth of fireworks had been stockpiled for the event.

Crowds started to gather with their lawn chairs hours before the sun had set.

"I'm gonna say it's gonna be a 45 minute plusser tonight," speculated Cloninger about the length of Monday's show.

Although many residents came from the Dallas community to watch the fireworks, others traveled from the surrounding are to see the bursting lights and flashes of color in the sky.

"They're the best in town," said Imani Miller of Charlotte. Miller said she had been coming to the Dallas show for three years.

While the event is a lot of fun for all in attendance, Cloninger stresses that safety remains a priority. Caution tape is placed around the area where the fireworks are launched, and firefighters go through a safety briefing before they help setup the fireworks.

Cloninger said he and some of the other show organizers are even state certified so that they can legally handle pyrotechnics.

"It's made us be more aware of what we're doing," said Cloninger. "We consider ourselves professionals."

The sheriff acknowledged that the fireworks are a fun part of the holiday, but Independence Day is about more than the show.

"We can celebrate what we're here for and that's to celebrate our country and our freedom and the folks that have gone before us so it's a big time," said Cloninger.

Cloninger said all of the money used for the show comes from donations from different businesses and people in the Dallas community.

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