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story.lead_photo.caption Keith Bryant/The Weekly Vista Bill Meskill (left) serves burgers to Cpl. Bobby Warren and officer Anthony King. Meskill said he cooks burgers for police and fire personnel, as well as volunteers working the event every year.

The annual fireworks show at the Loch Lomond dam had spectators in every direction while locals worked to make sure it went as smoothly as possible.

The Bella Vista Police Department had officers running around the park directing traffic and keeping an eye on everything.

"We're going to cram as many cars as we can up here," Lt. Scott Vanatta said.

Officers had some help from young individuals in the Explorers program. Officer Blake Hughes, who heads up the program, said it teaches about law enforcement work and there are currently nine participants and it is open to anyone, ages 14 to 20.

This event gave many of them a great chance to apply some of what they've been learning, he said.

"It gives them the opportunity first-hand to see what we do," he said. "They get a practical application.

One participant, Michael Coller, 17, was directing traffic at the far end of the parking area.

Coller said he signed up for the program because he's interested in a law enforcement career -- ideally ending up in the FBI -- and this gets him some job training before he starts with a department.

Coller said that he had a great time working with the general public during the event.

"I'm actually really enjoying it," he said. "I'm just going to do the best I can."

Firefighters overlooked the scene from the top of the dam, where they had rigged up numerous tubes with mortar shells to put on a loud, bright show later that evening.

Looms full of wires sat ready to send electric charges to light fuses. There were 634 electronic matches to light a total of roughly 1,000 shells, he said.

This is the second year the department has used electronic ignition for its fireworks show. Previously, Sims said, the department had someone running with a flare to light fuses directly.

"Much safer," he said.

While police, firefighters and volunteers worked up an appetite, Bella Vistan Bill Meskill cooked burgers for them with a portable grill near the park's main entrance.

It's an easy way to show some appreciation for the work they do, he said.

"The cops, they don't get anything to eat before they come to work," Meskill said.

Among the early bird attendees were Breanna and Cody Freeman.

"We come here every year," Breanna Freeman said, noting they've been coming for the past eight years they've been married.

They brought four kids along, she said, and it's a great venue because it has tons of space in which kids can play before the show starts. Moreover, while the event is well-attended, the space is wide enough that it doesn't become cramped, she said.

Cody Freeman said he was excited to socialize and enjoy the show.

"People are friendly and the fireworks are awesome," he said.

General News on 07/10/2019

Print Headline: Fireworks draw a crowd

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