Tag Archives: July 4th fireworks

With Fireworks Off, PAL Needs Pals

As chair of Westport’s Board of Finance, Brian Stern watches Westport’s dollars carefully.

But as a longtime Westporter, he knows the importance of funding to organizations that make our town a wonderful place to live. He writes:

Like most Westporters, I was disappointed to hear that (for very good reasons),  the July 4th fireworks are off again this year.

It was the correct public health decision — but it comes at a cost to the Police Athletic League.

The fireworks display is their major fundraising event, and it has now been canceled for the second consecutive year. In addition, the PAL suffered a serious loss from this winter’s revenue at the Longshore skating rink, which they also sponsor.

Westport PAL suffered a severe hit from COVID this year. (Photo/Michael Wisner)

The funding gap for these  events  is about $165,000.

The PAL is a wonderful institution. It provides  youth programs in a wide variety of sports and outdoor pastimes. It particularly tries to support families that, for whatever reason, cannot afford these important activities.

In order to keep the momentum of this fabulous organization rolling, I encourage all Westporters to join me in sending whatever amount you feel comfortable. Click here to donate online, or send a check to the Police Athletic League: 50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880.

To learn more about the PAL click here.

Fireworks Off; Memorial Day Parade Still On

The skies over Compo Beach will be dark this Independence Day holiday.

For the second straight year, the annual fireworks display has fallen victim to COVID. The decision was made by town officials, in collaboration with the sponsoring Westport Police Athletic League board.

First Selectman Jim Marpe made the announcement moments ago. The press release says:

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, current and expected guidance from the State’s Department of Health regarding large-scale events, and the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and its variants have been considered. Based on this information, it is in the best interest of residents, visitors, employees and the organizers to forego this highly attended event this year.

Although mask wearing rules are being relaxed and we are headed toward widespread vaccination, the CDC and other health and government officials continue to recommend social distancing in large gatherings of any kind for the foreseeable future.

Scenes like this at typical July 4th fireworks went into the decision to cancel this year’s event.(Photo/Rick Benson)

Westport Weston Health District Director Mark Cooper said, “The CDC recommends that everyone, fully vaccinated or not, should social distance and continue wearing masks in crowded settings and outdoor venues like concerts and sporting events where you will be around large groups of strangers. In most outdoor scenarios, the transmission risk is low. However, when outside in places where you are likely to be with many people from outside your household, people must maintain social distancing and should still wear face coverings.”

As a practical matter, there is no way to enforce social distancing and mask wearing in the crowded environment of the Compo Beach fireworks event. It is inadvisable to plan for an event like the annual fireworks display where thousands of people congregate in close proximity and cannot socially distance. The possibility of alternative sites was considered, but all of them created even greater concerns regarding accessibility, safety and logistics.

Unfortunately, there is no luxury of taking a “wait and see” approach to determine where the community is in its COVID recovery efforts come July. The logistics and the need for early planning, permitting, and funding, as well as arranging for the display itself, requires significant lead time.

PAL is the longtime sponsor of this annual event, and, although the Town is very much involved in planning and conducting, it is not town funded. The decision as to whether to hold this major, large-scale event needed to be made now, based on the information available at this time, and in coordination with all the organizers.

Fireworks will return in 2022. (Photo/David Squires)

Marpe said, “I am disappointed that this year Westport could not hold the large celebration we had hoped for. But our town has come too far in our successful battle to overcome COVID to risk a possible setback by conducting a major gathering prematurely. I am happy that this year’s July 4th holiday still offers an opportunity to celebrate safely with smaller groups of families, friends, and neighbors.

“We have had tremendous support from so many individuals and town organizations throughout this past year. It took a community-wide effort to manage this devastating health crisis. We have not yet completed the race, but we are closer to the finish line, and nearing a return to normalcy. I am confident that next year’s celebration at Compo Beach will be the most memorable one in many years.”

Marpe noted that the annual Memorial Day parade will be held as scheduled on Monday, May 31. Crowds along the parade route are less dense, and the event is of shorter duration.

The Memorial Day parade will be held as scheduled this year. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

 

Friday Flashback #185

July 4th fireworks, 2019 and earlier. Before “social distancing” entered our vocabulary.

Those were the days!

(Photo/John Kantor)

(Photo/Dan Woog)

(Photo/Dan Woog)

(Photo/Rick Benson)

(Photo/Dan Woog)

(Photo/Rick Benson)

July 3!

Last year, some hard-to-please Westporters bitched and moaned because the 4th of July fireworks were held on June 30th.

Folks have complained about July 1 and 2 dates too.

There are several reasons why we can’t do fireworks on July 4. But this year we’ve got the next best thing.

The 2017 show — produced by Westport PAL, sponsored by Melissa & Doug, with fireworks from the great Gruccis — are scheduled for Monday, July 3.

Tickets for the 61st annual event go on sale tomorrow (Thursday, June 1). They’re available — first-come, first-serve — at the Police Department (50 Jesup Road) and the Parks and Rec  office (Longshore, across from the 1st tee).

Westporters also sometimes bitch and moan that the cost is $35 per car. Well, proceeds fund a ton of PAL programs. And the entire evening is unrivaled for fun, and a community feeling.

Oh, yeah: The rain date is Wednesday, July 5.

We’ve got the 4th surrounded.

Westport’s fireworks, as seen from Hillspoint Road.

 

The Morning After

We’ve seen the rockets’ red glare. The bombs bursting in air.

We’ve left our beach chairs, tents, flip flops and food in the Compo Beach sand.

But Westport’s Parks and Rec crew is up to the task. They see our garbage, and in a fantastic show of coordination, energy and grit they remove it.

Betsy P. Kahn was up at 6 this morning. She lives on the shore, and took her regular dawn walk. Today, she brought her camera. Here’s what she saw:

Cleanup flag - Betsy P Kahn

Cleanup 1 - Betsy P Kahn

Cleanup - more seagulls - Betsy P Kahn

Cleanup seagulls pavilion - Betsy P Kahn

Cleanup sparklers - Betsy P Kahn

Cleanup - Parks and Rec - Betsy P Kahn

Cleanup seagulls - Betsy P Kahn

Meanwhile, here are 2 more looks back at the night before the morning after:

Cleanup - 19 Soundview

(All photos/Betsy P. Kahn)

(All photos/Betsy P. Kahn)

 

It Doesn’t Just Clean Itself

Last night, Compo Beach was jam-packed. Over 10,000 people crammed every available picnic table, wall and grain of sand to watch the fireworks.

They spent plenty of time eating, drinking and playing too.

When it was over, they left. And left behind literally tons of trash. Food, bottles, shoes, umbrellas, beach chairs, beach toys — the beach was, to use the technical term, a “f—in’ mess.”

By 8 this morning — just a few hours after the last revelers left their “stuff” — the beach was perfect. Pristine. Ready for another day of illegal table-saving:

cleanup ABut it didn’t just happen. Dozens of Parks & Rec employees worked feverishly to get Compo ship-shape. They picked up garbage. They hauled it away. And they groomed the sand.

Compo Beach cleanup

Compo Beach cleanup

Stuart McCarthy, Dan DeVito and the entire Parks & Rec Department do a fantastic job all year. The post-fireworks transformation may be their most remarkable feat of all.

The next time you see those guys (and gals), give them a thumb’s-up. Or thank them.

You might even offer them a cold one.

Water, that is. They’re on the job!