Sun July 07, 2024

By Jeff Smithpeters

Hope's Sparks Fly at Independence Day celebration Saturday evening
Above: Chace Rains and his band perform at Saturday's night's Sparks Fly in July concert.

At Sparks Fly in July, the Independence celebration put on Saturday evening at Hope Municipal Airport, the crowd was big and made up of a great proportion of kids as first the Nighthawk Band and then Chace Rains played propulsive rock from the big stage in the runup to a fireworks show that began at 9:20 p.m. 

The weather was warm and the sky was scant of clouds, but the temperatures were reasonable for a late July evening, descending to the low 90s by the time gates opened at the airport.  There was no sign of the rain that had been in the forecast earlier in the week. The more inviting weather helped bring in one of the larger crowds to come to the annual event in recent memory. Kids could select from two inflatable bouncy houses and an inflatable slide. Slightly older young folk could do a little simulated rock climbing or 

The food truck traffic was impressive, too.  Six of these were lined up on the east side of the airport grounds. Attendees could also give blood in a Lifeshare Blood Center truck. Near the end of the evening host Brian Thompson announced that donors had given enough to fill the truck’s storage capacity. 

Nighthawk Band came on at 6:30 with songs associated with George Strait, Tracy Lawrence, Billy Currington, Hank Williams, Aaron Tippin and many more in their setlist. As the sun crept down, Thompson introduced Chace Rains, a Clarksville, Texas singer songwriter who brought along a driving, rocking band. Rains is touring behind a recently released EP available on Spotify

From his “Lattice and Framework” EP, Rains performed “Same Old Rick,” as well as one original he said was not yet released. A rendition of “Midnight Special” with an unaccompanied vocal solo showed off some serious pipes. Because of good sound engineering, Rains’ powerful tenor easily came through, while his band boasted inventive, able instrumentalists on lead guitar, bass and drums. 

The fireworks started lower in the sky and gradually got higher and higher, starting with the playing of a Jordin Sparks rendition of the National Anthem from a 2008 Super Bowl appearance. Then viewers heard Ray Charles and a couple Sousa marches as the rockets rose higher and blooms of red, blue, purple and gold exploded with fast bangs and lit everybody up. It had been another fun, safe Independence holiday thanks to the city of Hope, its Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Promotion and the Hope Police Department.