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Fireworks and other festivities announced for July 4th at Springfield's Riverfront Park

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Spirit of Springfield
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Fireworks are launched from the Memorial Bridge over the Connecticut River between Springfield and West Springfield.

Public safety plans outlined as authorities discourage unsanctioned fireworks.

Plans were announced today for a July 4th fireworks show in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Fireworks will again explode in the sky over Springfield’s riverfront on July 4th as the pyrotechnics culminate the event known as Star Spangled Springfield that includes food and beverages, face painters, balloon artists, and a 60’s British music tribute band live in Riverfront Park.

“We’re expecting a big crowd and I think we’ll get it,” said Judy Matt, President of Spirit of Springfield, the nonprofit that produces the show.

She said the Fourth of July is “everybody’s holiday” and she’s happy to help people celebrate it.

Many municipalities in Massachusetts, Boston among them, are having fireworks shows on, or around this July 4th, for the first time in three years. But, Springfield had a fireworks show last year that Matt said was pulled together in just a few weeks after COVID restrictions were lifted.

“We eked it out,” Matt said, crediting a long business relationship with Fireworks by Grucci which was able to supply and setup the pyrotechnics on relatively short notice.

The vacuum left by the lack of officially sanctioned fireworks shows was filled by people setting off fireworks in the street, in parks, and backyards. During the spring and summer of 2020 and 2021 it was common for 911 operators in Springfield to receive hundreds of calls a night about fireworks, but not so far this year, said Springfield Fire Commissioner B.J. Calvi.

“Non-existent, I would say, to this point…I anticipate as we get closer to the Fourth of July you may see an uptick,” said Calvi. He stressed that it is illegal for individuals to possess fireworks in Massachusetts and if their use results in property damage or bodily injury there could be serious criminal charges brought.

For the public’s safety, police will enforce rules banning alcohol, skateboards, roller blades and drones in and around Riverfront Park, said Springfield Deputy Chief Steven Kent.

“If you have a question or a concern, if you see something you think should be brought to a police officer’s attention, don’t hesitate, do it right away,” Kent said.

There will be 50 additional officers assigned to security in the park and to direct traffic. Police Captain Larry Akers said the Memorial Bridge will be closed on July 3rd to allow for the fireworks set up and other streets near the park will be closed during the afternoon of July 4th.

“What my plan is to build a bubble around the area to keep everyone safe,” Akers said. “If you can find alternate routes around the area that night it would be appreciated.”

A marine patrol will be on the Connecticut River, as a large number of boaters typically gather to watch the fireworks. There are also popular vantage spots on the West Springfield side of the river.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.