KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The streets of Downtown Knoxville might look a little emptier this Labor Day weekend, as it marks the first time in nearly 30 years the city will not be hosting the annual Boomsday fireworks show.
“To be honest it’s a disappointment,” Taylor Stone said. “It’s just a Knoxville tradition.”
Thousands of people watched fireworks light up the sky over the Henley Bridge year after year, until the Knoxville Convention and Visitors Bureau, the group that organized the event for 11 years, put an end to the annual event due to lack of corporate sponsors.
Previous story: 200,000 pack Knoxville for last Boomsday
“Last year when I moved here, I went to Boomsday and it was the first or second week I was here, and it was so amazing,” Darrick Fisher said. “It was an incredible experience and it was one of the most memorable weeks of my life. I’m pretty upset it’s not going to be here this year.”
Organizers said while Boomsday was popular among locals, the event attracted very few out of town visitors, with 99 percent of crowd-goers driving in for the fireworks and leaving the same night.
“Just because we weren’t making money doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something everyone was enjoying,” Stone said. “Money isn’t what makes the world go round. I mean it’s nice, everyone needs money but we’re here to enjoy ourselves.”
Though many Knoxville residents are disappointed to see the tradition end, Visit Knoxville’s Erin Donovan said there’s still plenty to look forward to for the holiday weekend.
“We really do have a lot of things going on,” Donovan said. “It may not be something huge but it’s just going to be one of those weekends where it’s going to be beautiful weather and we can just be a tourist in our own hometown.”
On First Friday, families can enjoy art, music and food in downtown Knoxville. Then on Sunday, the Change Center Block party will take place at Harriet Tubman park and local bands will perform at the Old City Cover Jam in the Old City, with proceeds benefiting Autism Site Knoxville.
For some, nothing can replace the excitement and energy that came with Boomsday.
“It’s just something that makes Knoxville, Knoxville,” Stone said. “It would be home without it and just to know that the kids are growing up without watching it now is just pretty sad.”