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A virtual version of the 2008 Rhythm & Booms in Madison

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Another June, and another Rhythm & Booms has come and gone. The massive fireworks display and festival held every year in anticipation of Independence Day was held with nary a hitch last Saturday. Despite soggy conditions leftover from the early spring deluge and a threat of swarming mosquitoes, some 150,000 to 175,000 people turned out for the show at Warner Park, with many thousands more watching from other vantage points throughout Madison. More than a few were armed with cameras.

Many of these folks shot videos of the show set to music, and a handful have subsequently published and shared their clips online. Now, watching fireworks on a computer screen is a poor substitute for the real thing, but it's a fair way to get a sense of the spectacle, and more importantly, get geared up for the actual Fourth of July this Friday.

Numerous online views from the 2008 Rhythm & Booms follow.

One trio of videos is particularly affecting, given the commentary accompanying them. The first clip of the three simply focuses upon a pair of banners. "You will see the United States Flag and the Gold Star Flag symbolizing a family of a 'Fallen Soldier' and the sacrifices myself, my family, and many other families must endure for the rest of our lives," note the parents of one such serviceperson from Madison who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The flags are displayed in honor of Rachael Hugo, a Cpl. who served as a combat medic with the 303rd Military Police Company, 97th Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade of the U.S. Army Reserve. She was killed on October 5, 2007 when insurgents attacked her unit with an IED and small-arms fire in Bayji, Iraq. "Rachael volunteered to go out that day, and also volunteered to ride in the lead vehicle knowing it is the first to get hit by an IED. She wanted to be with "Her Guys" incase someone got hurt," continue her parents.

Along with the first video that concludes with the show-opening flyover by F-16s from the 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, Hugo's parents have also published two videos featuring the fireworks. The first clip features a display set to "Long Cool Women" by The Hollies, while the second captures the grand finale as set to the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. ""May God bless our Soldiers and their families," conclude her parents, "and may God continue to bless the United States of America!"

Other attendees shot multiple clips from throughout the fireworks display, ultimately creating a selection that capture nearly every burst and blast of Rhythm & Booms. The first clip in a five video series tracks the F-16 flyover above the crowds.

More snapshots of the fireworks themselves can be viewed in parts two, three, four, and five of this particular set.

A similar series features six videos, this one seen a little farther out from the epicenter of the action at Warner Park. The fifth clip features looks at many of the shaped fireworks seen in the show.

The rest of this collection includes another look at the opening performance of the "Star Spangeled Banner" and jet fighter flyover, along with extended looks at the show from its opening through the finale, available here, here, here, and here for viewing.

Another quartet of clips -- here, here, here, and here -- offer longer looks at the display than the other collections.

The most popular focus for many of the camera-wielding fireworks fans on Saturday was none other than the grand finale, though. Several clips feature the end of the show as shot by different spectators, including one as seen from downtown, along with more from closer perspectives available here, here, here, and here for viewing.

The clearest and brightest video of the collection features the final 136 seconds of the show.

"Wow, this was soooooo awesome!" declares the reveler. "I will be going again and again."

This may actually be on Independence Day next year. Rhythm & Booms is typically held on the Saturday before the holiday, but July 4, 2009 falls on a Saturday itself. Might Madison actually host its biggest fireworks show on the actual Fourth next summer?

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