NEW BRITAIN - As communities around the country celebrated the nationâ€™s birthday, New Britain brought out fair food, music and fireworks at Stanley Quarter Park Wednesday for area residents at the 26th annual Great American Boom.
â€śPeople know that weâ€™re one of the biggest fireworks shows in the state of Connecticut,â€ť said city Recreation Services Coordinator Matt Scofield. â€śItâ€™s a community event that the entire city gets behind, because itâ€™s our chance to shine on Americaâ€™s birthday.â€ť
Set up overlooking the pond was a line of vendors selling fried Oreos, fresh-squeezed lemonade and steak and cheese sandwiches. A rock climbing wall and a bungee jump station were also available, and zorb ball racing was set up for attendees to enjoy.
Music was by the Latanya Farrell Band, playing classic soul hits. The music was expected to continue through the fireworks, Scofield said.
About 30,000 people were expected to watch the show, Scofield said.
â€śItâ€™s a really good event,â€ť said Sean Adomako-Mensah. He and his nephew, Khamel Reddinghall, 8, both of New Britain, were driving through the city and decided to stop by after seeing all the commotion, he said.
â€śAnd now the fun begins,â€ť said Reddinghall after the two spoke with a man walking on stilts, who then asked another group of young men if they wanted to play a quick game of basketball.
Browsing all the food options and toys were Carla Thompson and Gigi Abraham, 3, who live near the park and decided to check it out.
â€śProbably a slushy,â€ť Thompson said of her choice of cool refreshment.
With a National Weather Service heat advisory in effect, all the vendors were selling water, Scofield said. Parks and Recreation Department and EMS crews on hand also had water available, and police and lifeguards were keeping an eye out for any heat exhaustion.
â€śWe have a lot of eyes and ears on this park to make sure everyoneâ€™s enjoying the Fourth but also responsibly having a good time,â€ť Scofield said.
â€śThe kids have never seen a big fireworks show before, so I looked online and this one looked like the best,â€ť Nicole Church, of Norwich, said, noting its activities for children.
Because she and the family she was with wanted to attend an event in a safe area, and heard about the big crowds, they arrived at 9:30 a.m. to stake out a spot.
â€śWeâ€™ve just been hanging out,â€ť Church added, with a visit to nearby A.W. Stanley Pool.
â€śItâ€™s a great park,â€ť she said, praising the pond and playground area for children.
â€śYes!â€ť shouted Isabella Cholewa, 11, who was with Church, when asked if she was ready for the 24-minute firework show that was to begin around 9:15 p.m.
Also set up east of the pond were Debbie Perron and Carla Plummer, both of Bristol.
â€śTheyâ€™re fantastic here,â€ť said Perron, who was at the Boom the years ago, of the fireworks.
â€śWe just need a couple of footrests and a fan,â€ť said Plummer.
The estimated cost of the event was $100,000, $25,000 for fireworks, said Scofield. Most of the costs covered overtime holiday staffing.
Thousands of dollars were raised for the Boom, Scofield said, mainly through a Quarters for Stanley Quarter drive run by Alderman Brian Keith Albert.
The bounce house and musical entertainment costs were offset by ticket sales and vendor proceeds, Scofield said.
â€śItâ€™s something that I look forward to,â€ť said Vincent Placeres, owner of The Kitchen and Mofongo restaurants in downtown New Britain. Mofongo, which specializes in Puerto Rican cuisine, was set up as a food vendor Wednesday.
â€śThe amount of people that come out for this, itâ€™s not just people from Newington and Plainville. Itâ€™s a great, great show,â€ť Placeres said.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.