LEWISTON — The way Debbie Fournier sees it, maybe they should hold the Liberty Festival on July 5 every year.
A day after the Fourth of July celebration was postponed due to rain, thousands flocked to both sides of Longley Memorial Bridge for the belated fireworks.
Fournier had a theory.
"On the Fourth, a lot of people have other things to do," she said. "They have families over and barbecues and all of that."
On the 5th of July, just about everybody is free, so bring on the fireworks.
It was kind of deceptive. Early in the evening, the crowds looked sparse around Veterans Park. Bands played on both sides of the bridge and there were people around, just not an ocean of them like the day before.
Then, when the skies turned dark, they came from all directions. By 9 p.m., Veterans Park was jammed full. So was the bridge and so was Great Falls Plaza in Auburn.
So, it was July 5. So the nation was 236 years and one day old instead of a nice, even number. Plenty of people were happy to overlook the technicality.
"It doesn't matter the date," said Aimee Bonenfant Maheux, who went to the festival with her husband and two children. "The intention is the same and so we celebrate again tonight. God bless the USA!"
Starting at about dinnertime, people began to appear in Veterans Park along the banks of the Androscoggin River. Most sat on blankets. A few came with lawn chairs and baskets of food.
Some were just passing through.
"I totally forgot they were doing that tonight," said one young woman sitting in the park at about 5 p.m. "I was just coming to sit, but now I guess I'll stay."
The skies turned dark around 7 p.m., but those black clouds moved along and it was mostly nice; nothing like the thunder and lightning that marred the Fourth.
"The weather is much better tonight," Fournier said.
There were plenty of people who planned to skip it. After all, it wasn't Independence Day. It was Independence Day plus one.
"Fireworks the day after the Fourth," said Lori Hallett LaBelle of Auburn, "is kind of like a belated birthday wish from a good friend who should have remembered your birthday! It just isn't the same."
So with that, LaBelle decided she would stay home; avoid the crowds and have a nice, early night.
Come 8:30 p.m., though, LaBelle was heading out the door. It might have been a day late, but really — who can resist fireworks?
"My daughter wants me to go," she said. "She wants me to have some fun."
And so, she went, just like thousands of others.
Fournier picked a spot on the Lewiston side of the bridge and sat with her neighbors' kids: Robert Dostie, 11, and his 10-year-old brother, Ben.
As far as the kids were concerned, the July 5 fireworks were gravy.
"We had fireworks at home last night," Robert said. "So we get it two nights in a row."
Not everyone was at Veterans Park for the fireworks. As always, several vehicles were parked on the Veterans Memorial Bridge. Others, like Maheux, watched from the boat launch in Auburn. Still others — several dozen — flocked to Marcotte Park in Lewiston where, thanks to convenient elevation, the fireworks could be seen across the downtown.
Although a few drops of rain fell just as the fireworks were beginning, the clouds soon passed and the long show continued with near flawless weather.