HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Riverfront Recapture announced Tuesday that their annual July fireworks display will no longer take place, citing overcrowding and a hefty price tag.
“This constantly evolving event has grown in attendance and exceeds the capacity of our parks,” said Michael Zaleski, Riverfront Recapture’s President & CEO. “We are disappointed as this is one of our most popular events but the safety of our park visitors, and our parks is paramount.”
“There are times when tough choices have to be made, especially in light of the well-publicized recent cuts to our budget,” Zaleski continued. “It’s disappointing to lose a great fireworks show but we still have a robust year of events to come.”
It costs $160,000 for 30 minutes of the show, and organizers believe those finances can be put to better use along the river to promote Hartford waterfront.
“It is a significant cost savings,” said Zaleski. “If we don’t do the fireworks, it allows us to program the park system the entire year.”
State and federal safety regulations require a significant safety zone for fireworks shows. That requirement has meant that shells have to be fired from a floating barge in the middle of the river just south of Downtown Hartford and north of the Charter Oak Bridge.
The event, which has been going on for more than 35 years, has also outgrown its venue. With only one on- and off-ramp next to the waterfront park, it’s very congested and difficult parking for the tens of thousands of people expected to attend.
In recent years, spectators congregating at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza have been unable to see the full show due to a growing tree canopy. It is not legally possible to move the firing zone north, closer to the Founders Bridge.
“I did enjoy the fireworks,” said resident Al Nemarich. “I had a lot of fun watching them, and we used to come up here by boat believe it or not.”
The Hartford Yard Goats are expected to have its own fireworks show at the stadium.