Soaring temperatures, rain showers and thunder kept thousands away from the Clawson Fourth of July festivities leading to the lowest turnout in several years, organizers said Thursday morning.
Even after 101-degree daytime temperatures, the fireworks show at still happened on Wednesday night, but with a huge drop in attendance. Many spectators who marked their spots hours before the fireworks show left early after being drenched in the rain. Some returned once the rain stopped.
Fourth of July commitee chairman Don Michels said the weather conditions were no reason to stop pyrotechnicians from launching the fireworks. Michels said once the fireworks are set up, they have to be launched or else it creates a safety hazard. The committee spends about $20,000 on the fireworks show every year.
"We don’t have a rain date, we fire them off whether its raining or not," Michels said. "We had a good clearing and went ahead and shot them off."
Still, many people missed out on the fireworks show which started at its planned time of 10 p.m.
The fireworks show usually attracts 7,500 people, however this year, Michels estimates that only 2,500 people showed up.
"The whole day was gone," Michels said "It was dead. The heat just got to people."
The carnival at City Park also experienced low turnout on Tuesday and Wednesday, said Michael Paquette, director of concessions.
Vendors lost thousands of dollars in profit because fewer people were willing to beat the heat and rain on the carnival rides and concessions stands this year. Organizers also had to shorten the time for games at the park because of the heat and low participation.
Between Tuesday and Wednesday "It rained on me eight different times," Paquette said.
Paquette said he estimates about 5,000 people attended the carnival compared to 7,000 people on average.
Clawson resident Carrie Chambers said her family attended the carnival and she also noticed a lower turnout than previous years. Chambers' family lives close to the park so they were able to go back home and cool off during the day and waited for the rain to stop before heading to the fireworks.
"We feel lucky because we live close," Chambers said. "Everyone was so sticky and hot."
Chambers said her family watched the fireworks from the parking lot at where a large crowd gathered. "We were glad that (the fireworks) happened, that’s for sure," she said.
Crysta Hicks said she watched the fireworks from a friend's house near Elmwood and Selfridge and saw a swarm of people leave the park in the rain around 9 p.m. The crowd returned shortly before 10 p.m. when the weather was clear, she said.
"Most people were standing up watching," said Hicks, who grew up in Clawson but now lives in Belleville. "I thought it was a great show."