A Temporary Venue Is Found For Fourth Of July Fireworks In Springfield | WAMC

A Temporary Venue Is Found For Fourth Of July Fireworks In Springfield

May 18, 2018

Fireworks launch from the Memorial Avenue Bridge across the Connecticut River as part of the Star Spangled Springfield Fourth of July celebration. The show is moved for 2018 to Blunt Park because of construction in Riverfront Park, where people gather to watch the show and listen to live music.
Credit Spirit of Springfield

    The show will go on. But, for the first time in more than 25 years, fireworks will not be launched over the Connecticut River on the Fourth of July in downtown Springfield.

    The Independence Day celebration that typically attracts tens of thousands of people cannot be held this year at its traditional location in downtown Springfield because of the $2.5 million renovation project going on at Riverfront Park.

     Mayor Domenic Sarno said the venue for the fireworks show on this July 4th will be centrally-located Blunt Park.

     "This is a temporary one-year hiatus away from the riverfront, then we will come back to the riverfront and continue the spectacular fireworks there," said Sarno who assured the event at the new venue will " be a great time."

     Judy Matt, president of Spirit of Springfield, which produces the annual Fourth of July celebration, said canceling this year’s show was never considered.

     " This is our residents' holiday and we want to make it the best for them," said Matt, who promised a "first class program."

     She credited the Springfield Fire Department with finding a location in the city where the fireworks could be safely launched and a large crowd of spectators accommodated.  Along with the fireworks, the program includes live entertainment, food vendors, and activities such as face-painting.

      Blunt Park is roughly three-times larger than Riverfront Park.

      The city’s public safety officials endorsed the relocation of the fireworks show.

     "The Springfield Police Department will ensure that Blunt Park will be a safe, family-friendly place so that everybody can enjoy the Fourth of July this year," said Springfield Police Deputy Chief Cheryl Clapprood.

      She added that it made sense to move the event, not only because of the construction work at Riverfront Park, but also because of numerous street and sidewalk repair projects throughout the downtown.

      From a security standpoint, Clapprood said Blunt Park poses more challenges than Riverfront Park.

     " Riverfront ( Park) is more contained with the river as a boundary. (Blunt Park) is spread out and we can't really control who comes into the park," said Clapprood.

      A large number of police officers both in uniform and plain clothes will be on duty for the event to provide security and direct traffic.

      " We  join forces with the Springfield Fire Department and they might have a drone, or two, up for us to help look over the crowds," said Clapprood.

      No decision has been made yet about whether people would be allowed to bring items such as coolers and backpacks into the park, according to Clapprood.

     The city and Spirit of Springfield plan to publicize parking locations and off-site spots for viewing the fireworks, Matt said.