Town To Market Waveny Fireworks as ‘Residents-Only’

Though police say they’re not anticipating a major rise in attendees for this year’s Independence Day weekend picnic and fireworks at Waveny, the volunteer committee that organizes the event is marketing it as “residents-only.”

The Family Fourth Committee long has urged those planning to attend the event, scheduled this year for Saturday, July 3, to buy parking/entry passes and typically sells more than 2,000 of them. Of those, about 1,800 are purchased by New Canaan residents in a normal year. The standalone fund to put on the event is supported by pass sales (it has about $70,000 in it currently). Those driving into Waveny or New Canaan High School to park without a pass have been allowed to enter, in part because it’s a practical impossibility to hold up the line talking to them about their passes or trying to have them turn around. Noting that some towns canceled their own fireworks shows this year due to uncertainty about pandemic-related restrictions, Committee members voiced fears at meetings held May 20 and 27 that the Waveny event could see so many people come that it overwhelms the park and becomes unsafe for pedestrians.

‘New Canaan At Its Best’: Town Council Thanks Volunteers Who Run Family Fourth at Waveny

New Canaan’s legislative body on Wednesday recognized a group of residents who volunteer each year to plan and run one of the town’s most beloved annual traditions, the Fourth of July fireworks at Waveny. The Family Fourth Committee through its many hours of volunteering creates what Town Council Vice Chairman Steve Karl called “a Norman Rockwell moment” for those who picnic and enjoy the fireworks show each summer. “It’s one of those places and times when it’s New Canaan at its best,” Karl said during the Town Council’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. “Thank you.”

The committee includes:

Steve Benko
Scott Cluett
Chris Cody
Wendy Dixon Fog
Win Goodrich
Suzanne Jonker
Vincent Luciano
Steve Parrett (Secretary)
Tom Stadler (Chairman)
John DiFederico
Rob Mallozzi (honorary member)
Doug Richardson (liaison from the Park & Recreation Commission)

At councilman Penny Young’s suggestion, the committee earned a standing ovation from the legislative body and others gathered in the Town Meeting Room. Town Council Chairman Bill Walbert said nothing better defines New Canaan “than the celebration that we put on for our country’s birthday.”

“There are a lot of things that speak to it, one of which is the fact that we depend on our citizens to support it, it is run by our citizens we have countless volunteers that work everything from traffic to balloons to you name it.”

Walbert noted that Stadler “lives and breathes” the Family Fourth as the committee’s chairman and “is always looking to make it better.”

Committee member Steve Benko recalled that the Family Fourth was launched in 1979 when the chairman of Park & Rec at the time, Joe Toppin, brought the idea to then-First Selectman Charlie Morton about creating a regular event out of a Bicentennial celebration at Waveny a few years earlier, complete with a picnic, fireworks and skydivers.