July Comes In With A Bang!

Westport celebrated the arrival of July — and Independence Day — with perfect weather, and one of the largest fireworks crowds ever, last night.

It was a wonderful, friendly, community vibe. There was food and fun, glow sticks and sparklers, and wall-to-wall people.

Westport may have been the 1st community in America to celebrate July 4th this year. But the date doesn’t matter. The great feelings — about our town and our country — do.

Thanks, Westport PAL, Melissa & Doug, our police and fire and EMTs and Parks & Rec crew, and everyone else who made last night special!

Click on or hover over photos to enlarge. All images below by Dan Woog, unless otherwise noted.

It's not Independence Day unless you wear red, white and blue.

It’s not Independence Day unless you wear red, white and blue…

...whatever your age...

…whatever your age…

 

...and deck your house in an American flag.

…and deck your house in an American flag.

Celebrating the 2nd Amendment.

Celebrating the 2nd Amendment. (Don’t worry! They’re toys!)

One man found solitude around 5 p.m. The large crowds had not yet arrived.

One man found solitude around 5 p.m. The large crowds had not yet arrived.

On Compo Beach Road, youngsters sold lemonade and cookies to raise funds to fight Alzheimer's.

On Compo Beach Road, youngsters raised money to fight Alzheimer’s.

Police officers did their job -- and mingled with the crowds. Ned Batlin knows everyone.

Police officers did their job — and mingled with the crowds. Ned Batlin knows everyone.

This scene was repeated hundreds of times, up and down the beach.

This scene was repeated hundreds of times, all along the beach.

Boats were out in force, all afternoon and evening.

Boats were out in force, all afternoon and evening.

Up and down Soundview, the boardwalk and beyond, teenagers strutted their stuff.

Up and down Soundview, the boardwalk and beyond, teenagers strutted their stuff.

New York City's Cobras put on a great dance and drum performance. They appeared in the movie "Birdman."

New York City’s Cobras put on a great dance and drum performance. They appeared in the movie “Birdman.”

A classic shot. We sometimes forget that the cannons represent Westport's part in our war for independence.

A classic shot. We sometimes forget that the cannons represent Westport’s role in our war for independence.

As night fell, bunting was illuminated on Soundview Drive.

As night fell, bunting was illuminated on Soundview Drive.

The main attraction.

The main attraction.

The fireworks, as seen from a Soundview Drive front porch. (Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

The fireworks, as seen from a Soundview Drive front porch. (Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

 

25 responses to “July Comes In With A Bang!

  1. Charlie Taylor

    Great work Dan. Takes me back 51 years

  2. Jerry MacDaid

    Toy guns for sale in Westport getting the little kids hooked when they are young. I hope folks used it as a “teaching moment” by tarring and feathering the evil vendor. If not, for shame.

    Also, Bridgeport’s (and several other town’s) 4th of July fireworks were on June 25th so, no, Westport was not the first.

  3. I’m glad those who attended enjoyed the fireworks. Unfortunately a significant portion of our community (commuters) was not able to participate because the event was scheduled on a Thursday in June. As was the case with the decision to redesign the Saugatuck Train Parking Lot, it seems like the town administration simply does not care much about the needs or opinions of the commuters. That needs to change.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      If I’m not mistaken, it’s the PAL that sponsors (pays) for the fireworks. PAL had Melissa and Doug helping them with it as well. I think the town involvement may be in providing support services. This isn’t something worthy of outrage – I worked until 8:15PM last night and was able to walk down and still make the fireworks. Did I miss a party beforehand? Sure, but I still have a weekend full of more BBQs and fireworks.

      To further educate you, the reasoning for the date was outlined in an announcement: they had to take into consideration the availability of those support services, (including being mindful of OVERTIME pay,) avoiding conflicts with other local fireworks displays, and also when the vendor was available.

      http://www.westportnow.com/index.php?/v3/comments/letter_pal_president_explains_june_30_fireworks_date/

      • Yes I have read that statement. Somehow the neighboring beach towns of Fairfield ( Sat July 2) and Norwalk (Sun July 3) for example were able to find a way to hold their holiday fireworks celebrations on an appropriate and convenient date even though they face the same kind of logistical challenges as we do. If the event was designed for maximum participation then Thursday night was a poor choice that could have been avoided.

        • Elizabeth Thibault

          But if the planners were looking to balance all their needs and avoid conflicts with other local towns, because resources do get shared and plenty of us do watch in multiple municipalities, this was the night they chose. I’m sure they would have loved to accommodate everyone and will take the vocal opinions into account when they balance needs vs wants vs price in the planning next year, but if you’re going to be incensed, it’s not the town administrators you need to direct your ire towards.
          I hope you and your family, and all 06880 readers, are able to enjoy more fireworks to celebrate the holiday this upcoming weekend!
          http://www.ctvisit.com/articles/connecticut-fireworks-2016

        • Those other towns do not have to clear the beach at 4 pm, to accommodate the people who have purchased tickets (which go to fund PAL programs that serve hundreds of youngsters, and 30 college scholarships a year). Westport has had this PAL partnership with the fireworks for decades, for the benefit of all. It would be impossible to clear the beach on a weekend at 4 p.m. — too many people, some of whom have paid high weekend rates to be there.

  4. Fred Cantor

    Excellent pics. (I couldn’t make it so I especially enjoyed the “main attraction” photo.) If you ever decide to give up writing, you could always consider going into business with your sister.

  5. Hey Dan, it was great seeing you at the beach. Thanks for all you do with the blog and for the community Westport! Happy 4 July!

    • And right back at you. Welcome home from San Francisco. There were MANY ex-pats at the beach last night. Westport is like the Hotel California: You can check out any time you like. But you can never leave.

      • continuing with the Hotel California metaphor: Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz…..Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  6. Sharon Paulsen

    Seeing that image of the (toy) machine gun vendor was startling and sent wave of repulsiveness down my spine.

    There’s so much wrong with it that … I … Just … Can’t.

    But enjoyed the rest of your photos Dan – makes me miss Compo. Would have been cool to see a sweeping shot of the whole beach filled up with people too.

    • Check out my new header (photo at the top of the blog). It’s by Andrew Colabella — enjoy!

      • Sharon Paulsen

        Nice Dan! Good header choice.

      • Jack Harder

        Many years I spent in the lifeguard chair (or the PA in the shack announcing for lost parents) on fireworks night. Andrew took the lifeguard course from me so I hope he is doing well. As a gun rights guy I can tell you I HATE toy guns. I don’t like the idea of kids pointing fake guns at one another.

  7. Steve Axthelm

    Great coverage Dan! But I wish I had sent you a picture of one negative on the evening – cars speeding up and down Beachside and Hillspoint after the fireworks. barreling past families with kids in strollers and wagons (yes that was me hollering “slow down!!”).

  8. Adam Schwartz '75

    I sure do miss Westport in the summer! This article brought back so many great memories. A couple of questions/comments;

    1. Maybe it’s just that I’m old and things appear further away in the mirror but, weren’t the Fireworks much closer to shore back in the 60’s? I remember looking almost straight up while lying on our beach blankets? These pictures make it appear they moved them way out off shore.

    2. Why in G-d’s name did Westport schedule Fireworks on Thursday, June 30th? I would love to hear the justification for that decision…

    3. To those of you freaking out and about to slit your wrists over the picture of the gentleman selling toy guns, get a life! Were you people locked in a basement during your childhood? One of my most memorable toys growing up were my cap guns. My brother and I would spend hours running around shooting each other, unloading rolls of caps in the meantime. (Not to mention all the rolls we set off with a hammer in the driveway!) And by the way, neither one of us became mass murderers or killers based on all those hours of playing with cap guns in our youth!

    • Hi Adam, while I’m certainly not ready to “slit my wrists” over the picture of the gentleman selling toy guns, I do think the fact that he was allowed to sell realistic looking-machine guns at an extremely crowded, family-oriented, patriotic event is upsetting at best and potentially dangerous, at worst.

      I actually have no problem with toy guns, in general, but the placement here seems quite contrary. What would have happened if an older kid (14?) bought one of those, climbed up on the lifeguard stand and “jokingly” shouted something about shooting people? In this day and age, people would have been terrified and the scene could have turned chaotic.

      Of course, we can agree to disagree, but I ask you to consider the fact that, unfortunately, the world we live in today is quite different than the one you grew up in when you and your brothers were playing with cap guns. And as parents (especially of young children), we’re constantly having to consider that while trying not to “overreact” or “helicopter parent.”

      Enjoy your holiday weekend.

  9. Sara Palmer

    The weather was perfect, the fireworks excellent and the big crowd had a great time. We’re lucky to have a fireworks display of such high caliber for a small town so thanks to all who make it happen!

  10. Happy 30th of June/1st of July, Adam! There are several comments above referring to the date. As for the fireworks being closer to the shore — I remember as a kid that they were shot off on land, near the cannons. I’m sure that violates many regulations these days. I’m not sure when the barge first appeared.

    • Adam Schwartz '75

      I can’t remember where but I knew they were a lot closer than the picture. The bottom line is, Westport is so lucky to have thier own fireworks celebration no matter what day they choose to set them off! Many cities and counties on the West Coast have done away with fireworks due to the water shortage and dry conditions the past 20 years. Great job as usual Dan! I hope you and everyone has a nice and safe weekend!

  11. Linda Stein

    I loved your fireworks coverage, HOWEVER, that guy selling those toy guns made me ill. Not sure he should have gotten that one
    second of press time

  12. Kimberly Boskello

    Did anyone notice that the Westport fireworks this past July were 26 minutes long? We did and we timed them as well. Hmmm…and why are we charged as fee to watch the fireworks? Personally they are nothing spectacular ,never were or will be. Yet 26 minutes long, I call it robbing people blind.