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Victoria residents take time to set off a few sparks of their own

July 4, 2011 at 2:04 a.m.

Celebrating Independence Day with his family, Gabriel Santos, 10, wields a "Texas Sword" on the banks of Saxet Lakes.

Gabriel Santos, 10, lit the fuse of a Roman candle and backed away staring, transfixed, as fire snaked its way along the chord and into the tube.

After a sudden pop, small bursts of color exploded overhead.

"Wow! Look at that," Gabriel cried, tracing the arc of the colors with a pointed finger. His grandparents, Manuel and Belinda Santos, smiled and laughed, enjoying his excitement.

The family came out to Saxet Lakes Park on Monday evening to pop their own fireworks before heading over to the big show at Victoria Mall. They love the annual fireworks show, but Belinda Santos said they decided to bring their grandson out to let him pop some fireworks of his own.

"It's just fun. It's a good way for the family to spend time together," she said.

It's also safer, Manuel Santos noted. With the state still firmly in the grips of one of the worst droughts on record, it's better to pop fireworks in a place where it's safe than to risk starting a fire, he said.

"Out here, if the wind is going the right direction, you can point the fireworks toward the lake and they'll go right out over the water. It's much safer," Manuel Santos said.

Victoria County Fire Marshall Ron Pray and fire fighters from Victoria Fire Department and the Raisin Volunteer Fire Department were on hand in case anything went wrong at the lake.

Fireworks aren't normally allowed at Saxet Lakes Park, Pray said, but the county opens the park up on the Fourth of July to give people a place to go pop fireworks safely.

Having people shoot fireworks at the lake keeps things in one location, which makes it easier for the fire fighters to handle any problems, Pray said.

"We're ready in case something happens," Pray said.

The firefighters and their families brought barbecue and fireworks of their own to shoot off over the course of the evening.

Pray's son Ethan, 10, scampered away as a string of Black Cats exploded in the road.

"It's pretty fun, but you've gotta be careful," Ethan said, grinning and wiping the sweat from his forehead.

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