Sparks to fly next weekend

WESTFIELD – After successfully staging their first Fourth of July fireworks display last year, the members of the Rotary Club of Westfield are confident about their second Independence Day celebration which will be mounted, again at Stanley Park, on Saturday, June 30.
The fireworks this year will be dedicated to the memory of Patti Andras.
Mark Boardman, the Rotary club’s event chairman, said “She worked tirelessly for the city doing the fireworks for, I think, 14 years.”
Andras took responsibility for arranging the Independence Day fireworks display in 1994 at the start of her stint as administrative assistant to newly elected Mayor Richard K Sullivan.
She continued in that role, even after she resigned her City Hall position to return to private sector employment, until 2007, when she was diagnosed with cancer.
Andras completed plans for the 2007 celebration and subsequently assisted both the Kiwanis Club, which organized the event 2008-2010, and the Rotary Club that took over the Fourth of July duties last year.
Traditionally, the fireworks have filled the sky on the night before the Fourth of July holiday but Boardman said this year the Rotarians “chose it to be on a Saturday, so more families can enjoy the picnics that they do on a weekend” rather than “rushing home on a Wednesday” to have a picnic before the sparks fly.
The other benefit of a Saturday event, he said, is the option of a Sunday rain date.
He said that, not only is keeping the rain date in the same weekend convenient for spectators, it keeps the cost down too.
He said that, by law, the fireworks may not remain in place unattended so, if the event is delayed one day, the pyrotechnician will stay on the site overnight. If, however, the event were to be postponed until the next weekend, the prepared shells would have to be removed and transported back the company’s facilities in New Hampshire for the week before they are returned and again deployed, at a significant added cost.
In addition, Boardman said, the Rotary would incur added expenses because amenities rented for the weekend – portable toilets, a sound system and an event stage – would have to be rented twice if the event was postponed until the next weekend.
Boardman said that funding for the event is provided by contributions from the public, as well as support from the major sponsors of the event – the Westfield News Group, Berkshire Bank, Westfield Bank and the Gas and Electric Light Department.
He said that persons who may wish to donate to the event may send a check payable to the Rotary Club of Westfield to P.O. Box 754, Westfield, 01086, or may make a contribution on the evening of the event with any of the volunteers accepting donations at the park.
“With generous contributions from the public we’ll have seed money for next year” he said.
Boardman also said, “We couldn’t do it without the assistance of the Westfield police, firefighters and the department of public works.”
He said that the police will be on hand the evening of the event for crowd and traffic control, the firefighters will have an ambulance at the site in case it’s needed as well as roving paramedics on bicycles and DPW workers will take care of the park cleanup after the event is over.
Boardman said that the event also would not happen without the active assistance of Stanley Park.
Robert McKean, the executive director of the park, said, “We’re proud and honored to host the annual event sponsored by The Rotary Club” and said that the park staff is happy to help create “a good family day” for area residents.
He points out that the park will not be open for visitors that day until 4 p.m. and stressed that dogs and bicycles will not be permitted in the park during the event.
Park staff will also organize a variety of vendors offering a variety of foods at the event.
McKean said that parking on the grounds of Stanley Park will be offered only to owners of valid handicap placards and plates and said that handicap credentials will be checked.
Before the fireworks start, the spectators will be entertained by musical performance by the Westfield High School jazz combo under the direction of Korey Bruno and that ensemble will be followed by a set by local favorites Cory and the Knightsmen.
The fireworks will also punctuate a local community celebration Friday which will feature a visit by Gov. Deval Patrick and celebrate the completion of two major projects in the city, the decades-long effort to build a second span across the Great River and the renovation of the intersection of two major state highways – north and south bound Routes 10 and 202 and east and west bound Route 20.
That project includes a complete rebuilding of Park Square in the center of the city.
Patrick will participate in a ceremony to dedicate the new bridge at 2:30 p.m. Friday.
That ceremony on the south side of the bridge will include musical performances and, after the ceremony, The Boot Hill Band will play in the new park between the bridge spans on the north side of the river.
The dedication ceremony will be preceded by a free hot dog social sponsored by the North Elm Butcher Block in the store’s parking lot, where pulled pork and corned beef sandwiches will be offered for sale.
On Sunday, the newly rebuilt Chapman Playground on St. Paul Street will open with improved features including a water park and a new pay construction.
Boardman said that the city will “continue the celebration on Saturday with the Independence Day celebration”.
For more on The Great River Bridges Community Celebration, check out Wednesday’s Westfield News and this week’s Pennysaver, or click here: www.cityofwestfield.org.

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