The volunteer committee that organizes the annual Fourth of July fireworks in Waveny is struggling to find a new date for the twice-postponed event, officials say.
Originally scheduled for July 3 with a July 11 rain date, the annual picnic and fireworks show has been put off due to rain and concerns about damaging Waveny’s athletic fields where visitors’ cars are parked, according to Recreation Director Steve Benko.
“So we are looking to try and find an alternate date,” he told members of the Parks & Recreation Commission during their regular meeting, held July 14 via videoconference. ‘That’s been kind of difficult.”
The comments came during Benko’s general update to the Commission.
Canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Family Fourth could not be scheduled with the fireworks contractor on the usual July 4 date this year. Though the Family Fourth Committee started planning later than usual in 2021 due to uncertainty about COVID-related restrictions, the group decided in May to market this year’s fireworks as “New Canaan residents only.” It’s unclear how many tickets were sold.
Asked whether there’s a point where the town will just need to cancel the fireworks for 2021, Benko said mid-October.
“But if we do have to postpone then we will have to make some arrangements,” he said. “This happened about 15 years ago where there was a fireworks contractor had a little run-in with the state fire marshal. He canceled our show and so what we did is we honored everybody’s passes from that year the next year. Because I have a list of every pass sold and the person’s name next to that pass, so we can honor their passes for next year. But the Committee would like to have it, so we are trying to find an alternate date.”
The Committee is scheduled to hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Monday.
The group looked at the last Sunday in August, but some voiced concerns that it wouldn’t work because kids have school the next day, Benko said. (The first day of school is Monday, Aug. 30.)
“So that’s kind of on hold,” he said. “The other was Labor Day and that sundown starts Rosh Hashanah, so we are trying be conscious of a religious holiday there. The other problem we have is trying to do a weekday night is difficult because the fireworks the guy who is the contractor for International Fireworks, he has a career out of Connecticut but they all have real jobs which to do a weeknight these guys have to take a vacation day from work and by the time they get home it’s not until 1 o’clock in the morning and they have to go to work at 6:30, 7 o’clock the next morning. So that’s been a tough thing, to get a reschedule date.”
The Committee is trying to get additional dates for the contractor to find out if something can work “but it’s still up in the air,” Benko said.
Commissioner George Benington asked whether Saturday Aug. 28 had been considered.
“Most people will be back [from summer vacations] by then.
Benko said many people who had scheduled weddings at Waveny for June and July ended up pushing them back to August through October.
“Starting in August, we have every Saturday except for one booked for a wedding,” he said.
Commissioner Laura Costigan asked whether not having the fireworks at all will result in a financial loss.
Benko said the Committee has “incurred some expenses” though not for the fireworks themselves—the single-biggest cost in putting on the show (about $31,000).
“We did have to rent light towers and port-a-johns for the 3rd and the 11th [of July] so we do have to pay that bill,” Benko said. “But other than that, those are the only expenses we have right now.”