ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Arlington hosted its annual Independence Day fireworks display Thursday night in anticipation of the July Fourth commemoration.

“Light Up Arlington” is more than fireworks, grand as they can be. There were bands and other performing artists on two stages. Along with food and fun enough for an estimated 55,000 people to jam into downtown.

“Special events are very important to our community,” said Michael Debrecht. “People come together, they want a nice, safe place to have a lot of fun.”

“Light Up Arlington” is Debrecht’s baby. It’s a family-friendly event, from bounce houses for kids and even Disney concerts for the younger set. Fireworks will shoot off the roof of city hall….even though set-up couldn’t start until 5 o’clock. “They can’t lay out the fireworks until we have city hall cleared,” Debrecht explained. “Since July thirds a business day, at 5 o’clock everybody’s off work, they clear the building, and then the fireworks can be put into place.”

Despite the short setup window, Debrecht believes the end result is grand. “You feel like you’re in the moment because the fireworks are going off right above your head.”

It’s the eighth year for fireworks, but only the sixth year downtown has hosted the event. An area ripe for an economic renaissance, and “Light Up Arlington” helps, according to event participant Rob Tribble. “I’m sure it invigorates it. We’ve never had many downtown restaurants, now we’ve probably got 10-12 of various types. Hamburgers, steaks, whatever you want.” Tribble, a 52 year resident of Arlington, lives just a mile-and-a-half from city hall.

“It’s just a whole lot of fun downtown here,” echoes Paul Chezkeye, general manager of the Grease Monkey Burgers. He says there’s a long-term vision to relocate the nearby city library and replace it with commercial businesses, even condos. He believes there’s a sense of community here, much different from the stadiums and tourist attractions along the Interstate-30.

“It seems more family downtown, more a local feel. It’s not as commercial, there’s just a more homey-type feel down here,” he told CBS 11 News.

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