A Fourth without fireworks is like Halloween without candy or Christmas without snow. Quite understandably, many communities have canceled their annual fireworks display this summer due to coronavirus concerns and state restrictions on gatherings of people. Still, it’s a bummer.
In Sanford, however, some folks seem to have found a way to put on a show next Friday, July 3, the night on which the city traditionally lights up the sky above Number One Pond. Like with a lot of matters during this pandemic, people had to get creative.
Luke Lanigan, acting as a private citizen, reached out to the Coast Star this week and announced that a group of local residents and business owners have banded together, raised close to $10,000, and hired Central Maine Pyrotechnics to put on a show on private property that the public will be able to see from points throughout the community. If it rains on the third, the show will be held on the Fourth.
"We are keeping the location private, so people don’t go to the homeowner’s location," Lanigan explained.
People, however, can visit the Sanford Events page on Facebook starting this Friday, June 26, to get ideas about the best locations in the community from which to ooh and aah when the rockets start going up. According to Lanigan, people also can tune in to The Legends, the local radio station at 104.3 on your FM dial, to get ideas – and to listen to a patriotic soundtrack during the show.
Lanigan said a few fireworks will be thrown into the night at around 8:30 p.m. in order to serve as "visual markers" to give people an idea of where they would like to go to watch the show. The show itself will begin at 9 p.m.
Lanigan said that the state fire marshal signed the permits for the show on Tuesday.
"Safety was our main concern when planning this event," Lanigan told the Coast Star.
Lanigan and the other organizers are asking people to refrain from close contact with each other and to wear masks if social distancing is not easily done.
"The purpose of this show was to bring our community together to celebrate America’s independence," Lanigan said. "We ask that everyone be respectful of the business parking lots being used."
And for anyone thinking of setting off fireworks of their own, Lanigan adds:
"Sanford has a strict fireworks policy, and we ask that you respect and refrain from private fireworks during this event."
In his notice to the Coast Star, Lanigan gave a shout-out to the numerous local businesses and individuals who are sponsoring this event through financial contributions.
"We exceeded all expectations," Lanigan said. "Our community will now have one of – if not the – largest shows ever in the Greater Sanford region."
Nice save. I was going to write my column this week about how a Fourth without fireworks is like . . . well, you get the idea. I looked at the weather app on my phone, saw that we are expecting a few thunderstorms early next week, and figured we’d have to settle for them as our big booms in the sky.
Kudos to Sanford Events, the private group putting on the show. Now it’s up to the rest of us to be smart and safe while enjoying it. Wherever you park your car or set up your blankets and lawn chairs, please keep that social distance – those good ol’ six feet we’re always hearing about – and wear a mask if keeping far enough apart proves challenging.
The community has gone without fireworks on the Fourth before, of course. I’m showing my age here, but the summer of 1988 comes to mind; I remember walking down School Street with a friend when a police officer drove by, announcing on a loudspeaker to the neighborhood that the night’s show had been called off for whatever reason.
Thanks to local sponsors, however, history will not repeat itself this time around. And that’s a good thing. Between impeachment, economic woes, and the pandemic, I think we’ve had enough this year of history repeating itself.
Shawn P. Sullivan is an award-winning columnist and the author of "Islands in the Chaotic Ocean of Life," a memoir that is available online at Amazon.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.