By LEAH TATE
NEW ALBANY —
Families crowded the New Albany Amphitheater to enjoy an evening of food, fun and fireworks as the city celebrated its annual Independence Day Riverfront Celebration on Wednesday. The event was sponsored by New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan, the City of New Albany and the Horseshoe Foundation.
The celebration began around 5 p.m. during a brief rain shower. However, after the rain diminished the crowds poured into the amphitheater seats and spilled into grassy areas along the floodwall.
Rock School bands Awkwardly Social, Broken Generation and Fenderella from Jimmy’s School of Music in downtown New Albany helped kick off the celebration. They were followed by Riverboys and Jimmy G and the Sidewinders before headliner The Crashers took the stage. About 10 vendors, including Wick’s Pizza and River City Winery, filled the food area, serving hot eats and cool drinks to attendees.
New Albany resident Jennifer Floyd, 32, waved hello to familiar faces while waiting in line for a drink with friends at the New Albanian Brewing Company stand.
Floyd said this was her first year to attend the Independence Day Riverfront Celebration.
“I saw The ... Crashers on TV talking about the festival,” Floyd said. “So I thought, ‘Let’s try something new this year.’”
Floyd said she was impressed.
“It’s a big crowd, the music is great and the beer is good,” she said.
Children lined up for a sweet treat at Zesto’s and the Hawaiian Shaved Ice stands and exhausted their energy in free bounce-house inflatables. Children could also play at the penny Arcade, hosted by the New Albany Bicentennial Commission, which included seven games costing a penny per play. Penny proceeds were donated to Hospice’s “Pennies from Heaven” fundraiser.
Fireworks blasted from a barge on the river at about 10 p.m. followed by The Crashers taking the stage again for a second set.
Local caterer Chef Walker said crowd size and sales for him were up this year from previous years and believes the band lineup may have contributed to the increased crowd.
Walker said he and his family were happy to have been invited to come back for the third year and serve his pork chops, ribs, beans and special hot wing sauce to attendees at the Independence Day Riverfront Celebration.
“I’m glad the mayor put this on again, we need more of these events,” Walker said. “People used to go to Louisville for things like this. Now we’re bringing people here.”