A fireworks display is a central feature of most Fourth of July celebrations. The Stuart Ledger, July 5, 1901, described two pyrotechnic displays, one held in Stuart and the other in nearby Newport.
“The fire-works was the best thing on the [Stuart] program. From Main Street the view toward the band stand was perfect. Long arms of fire could be seen shooting up to the seventh heaven. Once a half-dozen arms pushed up to the zenith and bending, opened their fingers and let fall a shower of brilliant meteors. Wheels of fire spinning and sputtering, fiery balls whirling on the ground and stars shooting through the air entertained the crowd for more than two hours.”
However, the planned fireworks display at neighboring Newport went seriously awry. The Ledger reported:
“The celebration at Newport ended in something bordering on a disaster. The fireworks were sent up from the band stand on Main Street and was managed by C. P. Wiltse and Bat Menney. In some way the entire box got set on fire and exploded in the box. The explosion was terrifying and the sound awful. Mr. Wiltse fell in a faint from the stand and was not revived for two hours. A rocket struck Will Layne, a bystander, injuring him seriously. He will probably die. Miss Brant was hit on the arm by a rocket and another lady slightly injured. The bunting caught fire, the stand was burned; with difficulty the Smith Bros. establishment and Al Willerling’s store were saved from the flames. Mr. Menney was not hurt.”