Knoxville faces no-Boomsday Labor Day

Businesses that once benefited from the crowds Boomsday brought to Knoxville won't get that extra late-summer spike this year. But some groups are using the open weekend to their advantage. (9/2/16 5PM)

This Labor Day weekend will be the first in nearly three decades without Knoxville's Boomsday.

The annual Labor Day weekend fireworks spectacular typically brought more than 100,000 visitors to town.

Last year, however, Visit Knoxville announced plans to cancel the event, citing lack of corporate sponsors and, as a result, tens of thousands of dollars in losses from overspending.

RELATED: Knoxville celebrates last Boomsday fireworks show

This year, that means businesses that once benefited from the crowds Boomsday brought into Knoxville won't get that same late-summer spike in revenue.

Launched from the Henley Bridge, the blasts of Boomsday were visible for miles around, but one of the best views was right on the Tennessee River.

Mike Cheek owns the Tennessee Riverboat Company and has offered a Boomsday cruise since he and his wife bought the business in 1994.

"Boomsday was one of our most popular cruises every year. It always sells out. We always had a waiting list," he told WBIR 10News Friday morning.

This will be his first year without a Boomsday cruise.

"This weekend here, on Sunday, is going to be very, very slow for us, compared to a year ago," Cheek said. "I think we have 30 or 50 people on the boat, where last year we were 200 people and we had to turn people away."

Visit Knoxville president Kim Bumpas said her organization is making efforts to help mitigate that problem.

Visit Knoxville took some of the money and effort it would normally put into Boomsday - to the tune of $15,000, Bumpas said - and used it to enhance the city's Festival on the Fourth Independence Day celebration this year.

Eric Vreeland, communications manager for the city of Knoxville, said this year's Fourth of July show had more firepower than previous years, giving it even more "boom" than before.

"In past years, Festival on the Fourth shot off four-inch shells. This year, the July 4 show used eight-inch shells - the same size mortars that Boomsday used," he said.  

The bigger boom on the Fourth of July helped Knoxville's non-profit Mabry-Hazen Historic House Museum.

With a spectacular view of the fireworks, the Mabry-Hazen House held a big Boomsday fundraiser every year.

"We knew that the city had bigger plans for their Fourth of July Festival on the Fourth this year, and so we moved that same programming we did for Boomsday over to July 4th," Mabry-Hazen House executive director Calvin Chappelle told 10News. "The fireworks are shot off the same bridge and it's the same view, and the fireworks this year were great."

Some even see this newly opened weekend on the events calendar as an opportunity.

Veronica Cordell is executive director of the non-profit Autism Site Knoxville, which is a community resource center for families impacted by autism.

"We knew that there would be a big kind of void left in Labor Day Weekend, and we wanted to help build a new Labor Day Weekend tradition," Cordell said. "It was a perfect opportunity for us to start our new fundraiser for our new organization."

ASK hosted a fundraising event billed as "Knoxville's New Labor Day Tradition," called the Old City Cover Jam on Sunday. It included a lineup over cover bands that played at NV Night Club & Courtyard from 2:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4.

Visit Knoxville president Kim Bumpas said there's still plenty to do this Labor Day weekend, including Knoxville's wealth of outdoor activities.

"We've got stuff going on 24/7. You don't need a special event to enjoy that," Bumpas said.

(© 2016 WBIR)


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