Thousands gather for Rhythm and Booms

Pyle Center hosts viewing for children's hospital patients
Thousands gather for Rhythm and Booms

Thousands spent the day in Madison getting ready for the annual Rhythm and Booms fireworks spectacular at Warner Park.

Though numerous communities canceled their fireworks displays due to the exceedingly dry weather, in Madison, the show went on.

Though everyone was at Warner Park mainly for the fireworks, the acclaimed display meant different things to many in attendance.

The show brought some families together while giving other families some hope for the future.

For Mike Wade, up from Atlanta to celebrate a family reunion, it was one of the best ways imaginable to mark his 60th birthday.

“By no stretch of the imagination, it’s the best fireworks in the entire country,” said Wade. “And we’ve been to a lot of them.”


Perhaps due to residing in Atlanta, Wade was pretty adept at managing Saturday’s scorching temperatures.

“We’re just hanging out, trying to stay in the shade,” said Wade. “As you notice, we actually move the tents with the shade so people stay in the shade even though the shade’s moving.”

The strategy for others was to stake out a spot, then go beat the heat somewhere else for a few hours and come back later.

But busy organizer Terry Kelly couldn’t take a break even for a few minutes.

“Well, everyone’s flying around, but you know it’s dealing with little minor problems, like we don’t have enough toilet paper in the port-o-potties or bands need to get set up,” said Kelly. “But this is the fun time for us.”

Many workers were on hand to douse out any safety concerns that could have arose.

Kelly said fire crews were ready with extinguishers and water to put out any smoldering firework debris.

“You’re prepared? I hope so. You never can be prepared for everything, but in terms of public safety, I think we’re prepared.”

Across the lake at the UW’s Pyle Center, some special family memories were being made.

About 70 patients from American Family Children’s Hospital got to take in the show with their parents.

Kaitlyn Simpson had two heart transplants when she was younger.

The 14-year-old is now a high school freshman.

Her mom Jeanne said that for all the families, the fireworks would provide special positive memories to help families through potentially difficult times.

“Maybe you’re having a surgical procedure, and you can reflect back and remember when we all got to do that together, and it gives you something positive to think about,” said Jeanne Simpson.