The sound of loud pops inside Carowinds theme park during Fourth of July activities had people on social media speaking out, along with frantic calls to the WBTV newsroom.
Multiple callers said that a large number of people went into the park’s Harmony Hall around 9:30 p.m. Monday night.
One man said that many of the people went to the back of the hall and then, about 30 seconds later, there were three loud “pops.” He said people were jumping onto the floor, parents were covering their children and people started running toward the doors.
“The aftermath around it was really frightening,” a teenage girl told WBTV, the Observer’s news partner. “I had to help a little girl find her parents and bring her to a security guard. And so many kids were separated from their parents because of all the commotion, and honestly it was so sad to see that.”
One man said he grabbed his 3-year-old son and ran out of the hall and out of the park, yelling at people along the way to turn around.
“I’ll never get that image out of my head,” he said. “I had to run past a 6-year-old girl holding her little brother and screaming for her mommy. But I had my son in my arms and I couldn’t stop to help. That will stay with me forever.”
Officials with Carowinds said there were some kids running through the park and “acting up.” The scene was described as “silly kids being kids.”
Carowinds officials said people were not evacuating and panicking, despite people’s accounts online. Officials said no one was arrested in the incident and they believe the kids just left the park on their own.
The park was running on normal operations for the entire night, according to officials.
Many people also complained that they missed the park’s fireworks show that was slated to start at 10 p.m. because the show started 20 minutes early.
Officials said that light rain was coming down and they wanted to get the fireworks started before anything got worse.