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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Westport Tradition: 4th of July Fireworks Not on 4th of July

By Jonathan Thrope

When Westport holds its 4th of July fireworks celebration Friday, July 1, at Compo Beach, it will be doing what it has always done � celebrating the national holiday on a day other than July 4.fireworks07020410260.jpg
Flashback: Compo fireworks lit up the sky on July 2, 2004. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Emily Laux for

It is not a matter of having to pay holiday overtime or lack of manpower as many people believe, according to Police Athletic League (PAL) organizers.

It’s simply that they do not want to have to shoo people off the beach at 4 p.m. on a busy 4th of July.

A fireworks event on the 4th of July would make it a “very, very hard job for us to clear the beach and set up for the fundraiser,” said John Anastasia, PAL vice president and former Westport deputy police chief.

“The beach is too crowded,” he said.

Organizers—who hope to sell 2,000 car passes for the fireworks show at $30 apiece—need to clear the beaches in late afternoon in order to empty the parking lots to make way for those who have paid to get their cars in, Anastasia said.

Police Chief Al Fiore, who sits on the PAL board, agrees with the date decision.

“It would not be fair to the taxpayers to be told that they have to leave the beach on a holiday so that we could turn the beach over for the annual fireworks display,” he said.

“Hence we always hold the event as close to the 4th as possible without doing it on the holiday or a weekend.”

Westport is not the only area town that has scheduled fireworks on a day other than July 4. Stamford will also hold its event Friday, Rowayton on Saturday, and Norwalk, Ridgefield, and New Canaan on Sunday.

Steven Benko, New Canaan’s recretation director, said that he did not believe the Independence Day celebration would be dampened by the premature fireworks since the entire weekend is really going to be one big holiday celebration.

Only Wilton among area towns will hold its 4th of July celebration on the 4th of July.

A spokesperson for Fireworks by Grucci in Brookhaven, N.Y., the pyrotechnics company staging Westport’s celebration, said many towns have opted to launch their fireworks days earlier since July 4 this year is on a Monday, and more people will likely show up for a Friday night or weekend show.

She added that the cost is the same, whether Friday or Monday. Westport’s PAL is paying about $50,000 for the barge, fireworks and associated entertainment.

Area residents had mixed feelings about a 4th of July celebration not on the 4th of July.

“As long as there are fireworks, I am happy,” said Lucas Levin, who is going into senior year at Staples High School.

Sylvia Schulman of Norwalk also does not mind when the fireworks take place.

“It doesn’t really matter when it is to me,” she said.

She was under the false impression that the town saves money by having the earlier fireworks, and therefore thought it made economic sense.

Still, Nancy Kuhn-Clark of Weston, a reference librarian at the Westport Public Library, was not pleased with the non-4th of July date.

“I think it should definitely be on the 4th,” she said. “That is Independence Day, and that is historically correct.”

Westport’s July 1 fireworks date this year actually does commemorate a nation’s independence � Canada.  Canada Day, formerly known as Dominion Day, marks the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of Canada.

And if it rains in Westport on Friday? The fireworks will be rescheduled for Tuesday, July 5.

Prior to the fireworks, the Junior Colonial Fife and Drum Band is scheduled put on an hour performance, and balloons will be available to children. Tickets are $30 per car and are available from the Parks and Recreation Department and the Westport Police Department.


Posted 06/28/05 at 08:26 PM  Permalink


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Well, no, actually, July 1 is not really Canada’s “independence day”. Nor does it mark the union of “the” British North America Provinces, because only four joined.

The article is comes close, as July 1 marks what is known as “Confederation,” the creation of modern Canada through the union of four provinces of British North America to form Canada, under the British North America Act, an act of the British Parliament. PEI and Newfoundland chose not to join at that time. Only four provinces joined: Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The last province to join was Newfoundland in 1949.

But Canada was not independent: it was a dominion of the British Empire. Its status evolved over time, but real independence only came in 1982, when a new constitution was implemented. The “repatriation” of the constitution gave control of the Canadian constitution to Canadians, making their constitution an act of the Canadian government, instead of an act of the British Parliament.

Even then, the Constitution Act was opposed by Quebec, because it guaranteed freedom of language, which is anathema to the leaders of that province (who deny residents the right to educate their children and merchants the right to conduct business in any language other than french) and because Quebec wanted a unilateral veto over constitutional change. Quebec was defeated in the Supreme Court in 1984.

Posted by Iain Bruce on June 29, 2005 at 01:48 PM | #

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