COLUMBIA — Long before 6 p.m. Friday, Charles Murphy, 76, and his wife, Delta Murphy, 69, had set up camp outside the north gate of Faurot Field. Tiles from the game Triangles (they say it’s addictive) are laid out between them on a card table. This is their normal football tailgating ritual, and they decided to extend it to Fire in the Sky this year. Delta said Triangles “keeps our old minds active.”
On Friday night, Columbians made their way en masse to Faurot Field to enjoy an evening of fireworks, preceded by music from local bands and other entertainment.
Karen Ramey, a supervisor with Columbia Parks and Recreation, expected about 20,000 attendees at the event.
Soon after the gates opened at 6:30 p.m., people were milling around, munching on kettle corn and Hawaiian shaved ice.
A gigantic American flag — the same one that made an appearance at the Memorial Day parade — flapped in the brisk wind just inside the north gate.
Children tumbled down the grassy embankment on the north side of the field.
Others waited in line to dunk firefighters and local celebrities at the dunking booth set up by Columbia Professional Firefighters. A call of “Who’s next?” went up, and hands shot in the air.
The firefighters and local celebrities in the dunking booth shouted taunts at the children in line. “Step it up. Let’s see what you got.”
At 7 p.m., the first band, Primitive Soul, took the stage.
Dan “Jake” Jacobs of Primitive Soul said it’s the first year for his band to play at Fire in the Sky. Usually, a couple other local bands play. “I guess they decided to shake it up this year,” Jacobs said.
Before the show, Ramey was optimistic about the evening. “It’s Friday, and the weather’s fabulous. I think we’ll have a great night.”