June 25, 2018
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Bangor fireworks display went on, despite rain from Hurricane Arthur

Michael C. York | BDN
Michael C. York | BDN
Bangor's fireworks display went on as scheduled, despite torrential rain from Hurricane Arthur.
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By Nell Gluckman, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Towns and cities across the state of Maine canceled or postponed their fireworks displays and other Independence Day events because of Hurricane Arthur, but there was one that did not: Bangor.

“I’m having fireworks. You can come if you want to,” Tony Bernatche, president of the Greater Bangor Fourth of July Corporation, told the Bangor Daily News on Friday.

And come they did.

A torrential downpour started around 9 p.m. Friday, but the waterfront parking lots were full, lawn chairs were turned upside down to be used as umbrellas and people splashed through puddles on their way to the driest locations they could find.

“We had the choice of staying in Portland or coming up here,” said John Olson, who said he and his friend were visiting Maine from Chicago. “And we’re happy we did.”

Portland postponed its fireworks display to July 5, citing the weather.

“Light ’em up,” said Jerry Hawes, of Skowhegan, who found a relatively dry place to watch the display with his family under the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge, near the Sea Dog.

“What’d they do to get us this day?” said his wife, Nicole Hawes. “We can stand the rain.”

Bangor City Council Chair Ben Sprague said he heard from city residents via email and social media that they were “confused and surprised that the show was still happening.”

The Greater Bangor Fourth of July Corp., not City Council, makes the decision whether to postpone the show, he added.

Bernatche said it would have been a “logistical nightmare” to reschedule the fireworks display.

He said in order to put on the show, he coordinates with police, fire and public works departments from Brewer and Bangor, the Maine Department of Transportation, the State Fire Marshals, a long list of volunteers and the Coast Guard, who made a six-hour trip up from Rockland.

“If we’d postponed it to [July 5], we’d have interfered with the concert going on tonight,” he said Saturday morning.

The bands Styx and Foreigner are scheduled to perform on the Bangor waterfront 7 p.m. Saturday.

The July 4 events in Bangor, including the fireworks, parade and concerts, cost $33,000, according to Bernatche, with $15,000 going to the fireworks.

The City of Bangor contributed $5,000, the City of Brewer contributed $2,000 and the rest was raised by the Greater Bangor Fourth of July Corporation, according to Bernatche.

“We had hundreds upon hundred of vets marching” in the parade, he said. “I’m pretty sure, when they were at war, they did not have a rain day off.”

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