In 1814 at Fort McHenry, the rocket’s red glare and bombs bursting in air were sponsored by the British Royal Navy.
On Tuesday, at Westport’s
4th 3rd of July celebration, the fireworks will be sponsored by Melissa & Doug.
The internationally known toy company — founded and owned by Westporters Melissa and Doug Bernstein — answered the call to fund this year’s event at Compo Beach.
“We try to help out locally — Westport Arts Center, the Levitt, Music Theatre of Connecticut, the schools, Downtown Merchants Association and a lot more,” says Doug, a 1981 Staples graduate.
“When the PAL asked for help, the answer was obvious. The fireworks epitomize community. So many children enjoy it, just like we enjoyed it growing up. I think I’ve gone 40 years in a row. And every year, every kid in town is there.”
Doug remembers piling into his parents’ station wagon. When he became a parent himself, and a youth coach, his entire team would get together, sharing blankets and picnic food.
As sponsor, Doug is realizing how much planning is involved. He’s working with PAL and Westport Parks & Rec. “Everything takes work,” he says. “From music, to getting everyone in and out. That stuff doesn’t just happen by luck.”
So do Doug and Melissa get a seat on the barge?
“That was my first question!” he laughs.
The answer is “no.” However, they do get a nice thank-you letter.
And the gratitude of an entire town.
Still, he jokes, “a police escort in and out of there would be nice.”
(Tickets are $30 per car, and benefit PAL. Tickets are available at Westport Police headquarters on 50 Jesup Road, and at the Parks & Rec office in Longshore.)