Melaleuca field, home of our baseball team.
The Melaleuca offices downtown.
And the famous Melaleuca freedom celebration, touted as the largest fireworks show west of the Mississippi.
I am not a fan. Particularly because of the company's owner and founder, and his influence over this town. I've blogged about this topic before, but this year's celebration was even more horrible than years past.
Before the events started, rumors swirl of a delay. A local radio station (under the Vandersloot umbrella) posts on facebook confirming the delay. Missing teenager in the river, search & rescue called, fireworks delayed.
People understood, and began to pray and send positive thoughts for the teen and his family. Shortly after:
"UPDATE: 3 teenagers were missing in the river at the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration. 2 have been found, 1 is unaccounted for. Search and rescue crews are still on scene. The fireworks will continue to be delayed until the ok is given."
"UPDATE: Melaleuca Freedom Celebration still being delayed. Search and rescue crews are asking EVERYONE to turn off their cell phones. Emergency crews are having issues communicating with one another. Divers are still in the water. Please remember the missing person in your thoughts and prayers."
Again, people are supportive. One person's life is more important than a fireworks show, right?
I begin to hear fireworks in the distance. Not the cheap illegal ones my neighbors are lighting off... professional ones.
For every one person begging for the show to continue 100 wanted the delay, until the missing person was found. People were being advised to power down their cell phones (as emergency crews were having trouble communicating with each other) but having fireworks booming above is ok??
But the show must go on.
After all, you have 100,000 people here, waiting for the show. Well, 99,999 I guess. Why disappoint them, just because of 1 person?
Shame on you, Melaleuca. Shame on this town for letting the celebration continue despite the ongoing tragedy. And shame on the person who greenlighted the show, knowing of the missing person and the continuing search. Whether that was Frank Vandersloot himself or someone in Melaleuca management, they should be ashamed of themselves...
(...unless the fireworks provided enough light to find the missing person. If that happened, then bravo for aiding in the rescue. BUT I BET THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN!!!)
God dammit I hate this town. I can't wait to get the hell out and never return.