Polk County fireworks: Why do they call it that? Haines City and Thunder on the Ridge 4th of July information

2:45 PM, Jun 29, 2011   |    comments
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Haines City is seen across the water in this photo from the Hillsborough County Public Library.

Independence Day is just days away. And the home of one of the Tampa Bay area's biggest Fourth of July displays almost fizzled out like a firework many years ago.

Why do they call it Haines City?

To be, or not to be: that is the question.

One of Shakespeare's most famous phrases makes sense here; the home of Haines City's Community Theatre holds onto the original name of this Polk County town.

The theatre group is based in the Clay Cut Center. In the years after the Civil War, Clay Cut was just a little burg, home to folks raising cows and fruit.

Then something big came to the small town of Clay Cut. A railroad line was built through the area.

Finally, folks could ship big things into town without having them hauled by a horse. And they could send their own products -- citrus and cattle -- to cities all over the Southeast.

One problem. The trains would not stop!

It seems this scrappy little spot was just too small to deserve a train station, no matter how much they doth protested.

It was time for the people of Clay Cut to answer that question. Did they want to be... or not? Without a railroad stop, their city would not survive.

So a new question arose. Would a town by any other name smell sweeter to the railroad company?

The people of Clay Cut picked out a new name: Haines City.

Why Haines? Henry Haines was a well known official with the railroad company.

It seems flattery got them everywhere. A railroad depot was built.

The sound and fury of steam engines sang out as the trains finally stopped.

This little town grew, and the city that was almost ignored into oblivion is now one of Polk County's three largest.

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

Haines City hosts Polk County's biggest fireworks display on the Fourth of July.

The "Thunder on the Ridge" festival goes from noon to 9 p.m. on July 4th.

It's at Lake Eva Park in Haines City. You'll find arts, crafts, food, and fun all day. Then at 7 p.m., a live concert by Craig Morgan.

Fireworks start after dark, and it's all free!

We feature new "Why do they call it that?" stories each Wednesday on 10 News at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Check out previous editions of the Emmy-nominated series at our "Why do they call it that?" website: wtsp.com/callitthat.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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