DONALDSONVILLE — Lexington Crosser, 7, clutched her grandmother’s leg as fireworks lit up the Donaldsonville sky Sunday to culminate the city’s annual Independence Day celebration a day early.
“It looks like it’s going to fall on us,” Lexington, of Baton Rouge, said to her grandmother, Yvonne Bayham, of Donaldsonville.
Lexington screamed and jumped back as each round of fireworks exploded overhead.
After reassuring her granddaughter they were a safe distance away from any danger, Bayham and her granddaughter peered into the sky for the 20-minute fireworks show.
Just a few weeks ago, Donaldsonville Downtown Development District Director Missy Jandura wasn’t sure anyone would be able to enjoy the annual celebration.
The city had to pull its funding for the event because of budget restraints, and funding for the event was nonexistent in early May, Jandura said.
That’s when Jandura and volunteers with the DDD joined forces to raise the $15,000 needed for the fireworks show and other expenses.
The group had to cross one other hurdle on Sunday — a rain shower blew over around 6:15 p.m.
“It was scary there for a minute, but now it’s cooled down and the crowds picking up,” she said at 7 p.m. Sunday.
“Without the generosity of locals and some businesses, we wouldn’t be here tonight,” she said. “Now, let’s hope some folks spend a little money in the city.”
Jandura said the fundraising for the event would have to continue this week if revenues didn’t cover all the expenses. An optimistic Jandura and her band of volunteers spent hours under a tent selling T-shirts and other trinkets in hopes of picking up enough money to pay all the bills.
“Look at the crowd, families are out here celebrating the Fourth and that’s what we wanted, that’s what we had to do all this for,” she said.
Jandura estimated that more than 5,000 people watched the fireworks show that started around 9:25 p.m.
Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan said that despite the city’s tight coffers, he didn’t want to cancel the annual event and was glad Jandura was able to pull it off.
“This just goes to show what happens when you are determined,” Sullivan said. “The resiliency of the DDD just goes to show you the resiliency our residents … no matter what, we rise to the occasion.”
Donaldsonville resident Geralyn Lanoux echoed the mayor’s sentiments.
Lanoux, who walked to Crescent Park from her house to listen to the bands — The Avenue Cruisers and The Harvey Wallbangers — said she enjoys the event each year.
“If I’m off, I’m here,” Lanoux said. “I was dancing in the rain earlier.”
Prince Davis spent his day serving up jambalaya and cracklins.
“There’s no better place than to be here, surrounded by friends and family,” Davis said.
City Councilman Troy Brown said the annual 3rd of July event “is one of those events where everyone in the town comes together.”
Brown said Donaldsonville is the only city in the area that hosts an event on July 3, and many of those in attendance come from out of town to see the fireworks.
One of those out-of-town visitors was Atlanta resident Dajah Miles, 9, who was visiting family.
Dajah was surrounded by more than a dozen friends and relatives sitting in front of the Historic Donaldsonville Museum waiting for the fireworks to start.
“We do this every year,” said Beulah Butler, of Donaldsonville. “It’s a great family day and we’ll all here together, celebrating.”
After about 10 minutes of the brightly-colored pyrotechnic display, Bayham heard the patriotic music playing in the background.
“Not bad for a little town,” she said. Ascension section editor