PEORIA Ill -- Thousands gathered around the Peoria Riverfront Thursday evening, some reserving their spot as early as 2 pm.
"We try to meet by the Spirit of Peoria every year," said Peoria resident Patti Smith. "We have a big family so we just tell one another to meet by the boat and we get here early."
While Smith enjoys all of the food, drinks, and atmosphere at her usual spot on the river, the real reason she keeps coming back is to show her support for the armed forces.
"July 4th is a very special day for my family," said Smith. "I'm a proud mother of two Marines and the Independence of our country. The men and women who have served our country and given their lives to preserve our freedom is worth celebrating."
Peoria's Red White And Boom event keeps bringing people back with their several food vendors and the kids' favorite, face painting.
"We came last year and loved it," said Kewanee resident, Chris Cinnamon. "There is so much to do for the kids and for us. There are so many things to offer. It's such a great atmosphere right on the river. It's beautiful."
But what would a night on the riverfront be without some free entertainment.
People could not help to stop and watch, Peoria's Lux Orbis, fire performance troupe.
The group is professionally trained in flame throwing and eating.
This firework season they made their first appearance on the riverfront, showing off their skills.
"It was fun. I like fireworks and fire, and we thought everyone else would really enjoy it," said Fire performer, Joe Spanier. "I think this has worked out really well for us. There's been a really good crowd response."