May 21, 2018
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Crowds pack riverfront for fireworks

By Meg Haskell, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Fireworks lit up the night sky over Bangor and Brewer on Sunday, wrapping up the festive Fourth of July holiday. The day’s activities began with a pancake breakfast in Brewer and included a road race, a parade and an old-fashioned outdoor band concert.

The fireworks started on schedule at 9:30 p.m. as the last light faded from the sky. The first big, noisy barrage drew appreciative oohs and ahs from the crowds encamped beneath. The display went on for about 20 minutes, winding up with an extended, bone-rattling finale that elicited cheers, applause and blowing horns.

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Families began arriving in the late afternoon, setting up for the long evening with blankets and coolers.

Children played with Frisbees and bubble-blowers in the open park of the Bangor Waterfront. By the time the fireworks started, the crowds extended along Main Street toward Hollywood Slots. People sat on folding chairs and blankets all along the sidewalks and in the parking lots of local businesses.

Erica Nealley of Bangor arrived at the Bangor Waterfront at about 5 p.m. with a group of four families from the same intown apartment complex. The group included six children between the ages of 1 and 10.

“We do this every year so we can get parking,” Nealley said. “We know we’re going to be here for a while. We bring the coolers full of food, the footballs, the softballs, the gloves.” Once the fireworks are over, she said, “we know we’re going to wait in traffic for a little while.”

This is the second year the fireworks display was handled by Central Maine Pyrotechnics, which is headquartered in Hallowell. A six-person crew spent several hours Sunday afternoon setting up the launching site in a protected area along the Penobscot River below the Tim Hortons restaurant on Main Street. The preparation included assembling a series of plywood racks, each containing a number of cardboard tubes to hold individual fireworks.

The fireworks were lit individually and in groups by “shooter” Earl Hay, using a long-burning road flare. Hay wore a hard hat, eye protection and ear plugs while he lit the fuses.

Hay, who lives in Woolwich, is the brother of company president Steve Marson and has been torching fireworks in Maine for 13 years.

“Still got all my fingers and toes,” he boasted, pounding together a plywood frame Sunday afternoon.

This year’s fireworks display cost about $12,500, according to Tony Bernatche, president of the Greater Bangor Fourth of July Corp., which organized the parade and fireworks along with the Bangor and Brewer Kiwanis. All told, the cost of putting on the parade and the fireworks, including permits and portable toilets, was about $25,000, Bernatche said.

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