ERIE -- Eyes were fixed skyward at the Colorado National Golf Club on Wednesday night, as thousands turned out to wish America an early happy 237th birthday at the annual July 3 "extravaganza" and fireworks display.
The club shut down the course early, food vendors and a DJ staked out their spots and nearly a dozen inflatable fun houses were set up near the clubhouse for the event.
Asked why he showed up Wednesday evening, 10-year-old Aidan Tighe, of Broomfield, said, "'Cause we can see fireworks two nights in a row."
His family's picnic blanket was strategically placed near the plastic fencing put up to keep onlookers from getting too close to the launch zone.
"They're awesome," Aidan said, when asked why he likes fireworks. "They're fiery, and they explode."
Lafayette resident Tammy Fraser brought her 3-year-old son, Tyler, to see the first fireworks display she expected him to remember -- after not being able to catch a display last year, when many were canceled because of dry weather.
"I can't lie; I like the fireworks, too. I can use him as a excuse," Fraser said.
Kids enjoyed an amazingly large array of inflatables, leading one wide-eyed little girl to proclaim, "It's like bouncy castle world" as she approached the course.
Attendees brought lawn darts and all manner of handheld projectiles, from tennis balls to footballs to Frisbees, to keep busy before the show started.
Erie resident Jennifer Vissers said the early fireworks are now a family tradition. She and her husband, Mike, have attended every year since 2009.
"It's close, and it's a good show," Vissers said.
Golf course officials say they want the event to be more than just a fireworks show.
"One of our biggest things when we took over the course was we wanted to really embed ourselves in the community and do events that weren't necessarily golf-related. We just wanted to give back," said Matt Schalk, who co-owns the club with Steve Kerr. "The kids really get four hours', five hours' worth of fun, and that's the best part."
Not everyone reported having a great time, however, as some onlookers who set up chairs and blankets to watch the show on the green near The Lazy Dog Sports Bar and Grill reported the sprinklers coming on without warning before the fireworks began.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Joe Rubino at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.