Fireworks? Foundation Says Yes

(The following article, highlighting the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain’s role in helping to fund the City of New Britain’s 2014 Great American Boom fireworks display, appeared in the Sunday, July 6 edition of the New Britain Herald)

Fourth on the Fifth

By Susan Corica, The New Britain Herald
July 6, 2014

NEW BRITAIN – The Great American Boom fireworks extravaganza had to wait a day for rainy weather to pass but it finally went off with a bang Saturday night.

The 21st annual city tradition kicked off in late afternoon with a variety of carnival games, food and craft vendors, live music, and the half-hour fireworks show as the grand finale as darkness fell in Stanley Quarter Park.

At around 5:15 p.m., people were tricking into the park to set up blankets and chairs on the grass by the lake.

“As the night wears on, more and more people show up so that by the time the fireworks go off there are tens of thousands of people here,” said Erik Barbieri, the city’s superintendent of recreation.

“It’s a beautiful day. This is the weather we were looking for. I see there are cars parked all over,” he said. “The police are already flying around staying on top of things and so far so good. This is exactly what we wanted, so postponing it one day was a no-brainer.”

“By the time we’re done there will probably be 40,000 people here, not in the park but throughout the whole area,” Barbieri said. “People watch it from all over, and the cops count all of them.”

The fireworks would be shot off in the park’s back parking lot to go off over the soccer fields, which are fenced in so the audience can’t get too close, Barbieri explained.

The field is big enough to allow room to shoot off the really big 8-inch shells, he said. “That’s about as big as you can get, and there’s going to be 50 of them this year, so we’re excited about it.”

This year’s fireworks show was promoted as the best one ever, with 2,000 shells, including 50 of the 8-inchers, twice as many as in the past.

By about 7 p.m. some 20,000 to 25,000 people will pour into the park itself, predicted Matt Scofield, event coordinator for the Great American Boom.

“We’ve been lucky with the weather in the past, but this year when you have a decision between a really rainy day and a picture perfect day you gotta go with the picture perfect day,” Scofield said.

Marci Dunphy, from Farmington, was on hand selling fried dough and lemonade from her vendor truck. She said she goes to many of these kinds of events this time of year. Business was still slow around 5 p.m., but she was very optimistic that before everything was over it would be a good night.

Everything was going smoothly as of early evening, according to Captain David Kuscuk, from New Britain Emergency Medical Services.

EMS typically sees cases of dehydration, falls, bumps and bruises at events this time of year, but there was nothing exciting so far, he said. “Nothing fireworks-related yet, so far but the weekend is still going on.”

The fireworks display cost the city $25,000, while the total cost of the evening — including personnel and rental fees for attractions — was about $40,000.

Organizations that contributed $1,000 or more toward the event include the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, $10,000; American Savings Foundation, $10,000; and local business owner Peter Ceglarz, $1,000. Other individuals donated between $25 and $50.