Jerry and Lisa-Marie Haygood capped off their 2004 wedding reception which took place at their home with a large fireworks display and have continued the tradition every year since.
“My husband always said it’s a great way to make sure there are always fireworks for our anniversary,” Lisa-Marie Haygood said.
Now, about 300 people turn up every year to watch the fireworks shot out of the Haygood’s backyard horse pasture, located off Billings Farm Lane in Hickory Flat.
“The folks in Bradshaw Farms can see (the fireworks) from their clubhouse, too,” she said.
Haygood, president of the Cherokee County Council of PTAs, said everyone is invited to bring their own picnics to the kid-friendly event that features a DJ, games and portable restrooms.
Her daughters Ashley Bates, 15, and Katie Bates, 13, also enjoy the festivities each year, so Haygood said it’s important for her family to have a safe, clean place to get together and enjoy the holiday.
“It’s pretty simple,” she said. “It’s just a lot of folks hanging out on the lawn, enjoying the sun and summer.”
But three years ago, the Haygoods decided they could not afford to continue the celebration because their professional homebuilding company was struggling.
“That year our company had not been profitable and it was too much of an expense,” Haygood said.
After the announcement, another family decided the fireworks was too important for the community to lose.
Candace and Steve Shakar, both local business owners, told the Haygoods they would provide the fireworks if the family would continue to open their home each year.
“It’s such a great thing for our community and our three small boys,” Candace Shakar said. “We decided to pick up the bill for the fireworks and continue that tradition.”
Haygood said she didn’t know the Shakar family until they came to her Fourth of July party four years ago as guests of Rep. Sean Jerguson (R-Holly Springs).
“Now it’s become a joint venture for us,” Haygood said.
Jerguson said he and his family look forward to the event every year, as his family, the Haygoods and the Shakars have all become close through their efforts to continue the annual celebration.
“What a blessing it is to be able to have this,” Jerguson said. “It’s great to be able to celebrate our freedom and our country’s birthday with friends and the community.”
Haygood said many local candidates like Jerguson, who is up for re-election this year, typically bring signs to put in her front yard and often come to celebrate, but stressed the celebration is not a political event.
“It’s a great chance for (politicians) to mingle and visit, get to know the community,” Haygood said.
Shakar said both she and Haygood were able to bond over their community involvement, as they both campaign for Republican candidates within the county.
“We just had a great friendship going from there on,” Shakar said. “This event is about celebrating our country and more about bringing people together.”
Shakar said her family plans to continue to support the event each year.
“Lisa-Marie is opening up her whole backyard to give a safe environment for kids and it just kind of provides a real hometown feeling,” Shakar said. “That’s just what it’s all about.”