Estimated 70,000 People Pack Fort Worth's Fourth Celebration

The Panther Island Pavilion was packed Monday afternoon and evening with people celebrating Fourth of July at Fort Worth's Fourth. The fireworks started a few minutes after 10 p.m., the display so close, the crowd could feel the heat. 

The annual celebration is billed a family-friendly event, with free admission, free tube rides in the Trinity River and free activities for children.

"We're trying to build a family-friendly festival," said Matt Oliver, of the Trinity River Vision Authority. "This event has really turned into a gift to the community."

Crews with the Trinity River Vision Authority spent the last few days preparing Panther Island Pavilion for the anticipated 70,000 people expected at Fort Worth's Fourth.

Hours before the gates opened, those same crews were busy clearing standing water on the bike path and dirt and mud courtesy of Monday morning's rain storms.

A few signs were damaged by the winds and at least one vendor's booth was left in shambles, but the storm will not impact any scheduled events or delay the start of the festivities. Gates opened at 2 p.m. as scheduled.

"It (the rain) cleared off, we're getting all set," said Shanna Cate, TRVA's programming manager. "We're still opening the gates at two. We're all on. We've already started cleaning up a little of the mud areas."

Most areas where patrons can sit and watch the fireworks dries out quickly, TRVA's J.D. Granger told NBC 5.

As people gathered wearing their red, white and blue, some pondered why we celebrate the day. 

"It's a good time to celebrate our freedom and celebrate being different and all together," said Pam Cooper. "A lot of people lose sight of why we're here and why we celebrate."

Salim Rajani was just getting his first taste of the Fourth of July. "Yeah, it's my first Independence Day," Rajani explained. He recently moved to Euless from India. "Very happy to see everyone is enjoying freedom with peace of mind." 

NBC 5's Noelle Walker contributed to this report.

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