By Kate Ramunni
On Friday, town officials announced that the annual Fourth of July concert and fireworks show would go on after forecasts predicted the skies would be clear by nightfall.
But by 7 p.m., the rain was falling. The start of the concert featuring the U.S. Army Band and Chorus was pushed back, but it was soon obvious the rain wasn’t going to let up in time for it to proceed, so it was cancelled.
But that wasn’t the case with the fireworks, which went on despite the rain with thunder and lightning, a decision many couldn’t understand.
Mayor Curt Balzano Leng took to Facebook minutes before the show started to explain why it too wasn’t cancelled.
“As many might not realize, there’s a lot that goes into putting on a fireworks show of this magnitude than what might appear,” Leng wrote. “Preparation starts nearly a year in advance and there’s a great deal that goes on behind the scenes. As soon as one Fourth of July display is over, they painstakingly start planning next years festivities.
The event’s volunteers, the Fire Chief, the town’s CERT team, the Arts Commission and others watch the weather closely, he said, “both in advance, and then right up until the last minute, working to make the best possible decision, which needs to be made by noon of the event day,” Leng said. At noon on Friday, the evening looked like a better choice than Saturday night, he said. They considered waiting until Saturday night but at the time the forecast was even worse than what was forecast for Friday night, he said.
So the decision was made to go forward with the fireworks Friday night, Leng said. “Once the decision is made, the professionals that launch this high tech pyrotechnic show begin preparing for the evening,” he said, which included loading the shells that would be set off. “Once loaded, the fireworks get launched that night and it was not an option to rethink things once the weather took a turn for the unfortunately much worse, as it did,” he said. “Once loaded, the fireworks get launched.
“There are days like today where I wish that we had better information about the weather or some options for overcoming it, but unfortunately that’s not the case,” Leng said. “While everyone would have loved for 15,000 people to watch the fireworks extravaganza from Town Center Park like so many plan for and work for, it wasn’t in the cards this year.”
While watching on lawn of Town Center Park wasn’t an option, many still came to the park and watched from various points in the area from their cars, including Leng, who posted this video of the show.
Leng thanked everyone involved with the event, including “first and foremost, the Hamden Volunteer Firefighters Fireworks Committee, who lead this event, and also our Arts Commission, our hard working Police & Fire Staff, Hamden’s amazingly dedicated CERT Team and many more.
“The job that the Volunteer Firefighters have done, not only this year, but for the last 24 years in making this outstanding community event happen, is extraordinary and allows us to have this true Hamden tradition and one of our top community events,” Leng said.