Tuesday, February 25, 2020

July Fireworks Celebration Will No Longer Take Place

Hartford, CT (February 25, 2020) – Riverfront Recapture announced today that their annual July fireworks display will no longer take place.
“This constantly evolving event has grown in attendance and exceeds the capacity of our parks. We are disappointed as this is one of our most popular events but the safety of our park visitors, and our parks, is paramount,” stated Michael Zaleski, Riverfront Recapture’s President & CEO.
Over the past twenty years significant development has taken place around Mortensen Riverfront Plaza. Parking lots that were once available for viewing the fireworks are now occupied by new buildings and popular attractions like the Connecticut Science Center. The significantly expanded tree canopy on the plaza and along the river has also decreased the amount of available viewing space. Now, a larger number of people are congregating in more condensed spaces in the parks and struggling to see the show.
“We have had to admit to ourselves that we can no longer welcome tens of thousands of people to Mortensen Riverfront Plaza for a fireworks show on the river and ensure both good viewing and safe egress at the conclusion of the show,” said Zaleski. “There are times when tough choices have to be made, especially in light of the well-publicized recent cuts to our budget. It’s disappointing to lose a great fireworks show but we still have a robust year of events to come.”
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. 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.
While the cost of this fireworks show is significant (more than $5,000 per minute), Riverfront has been fortunate over the last several years to be able to raise private dollars to pay for the event. Companies like Travelers, Mohegan Sun, Hartford Steam Boiler and United Technologies through their support of the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s Summer in the City program have all helped make this event possible.
Attendees to the Riverfront Fireworks make up only a small percentage of the almost 850,000 people that visited the Riverfront parks system in 2019. Riverfront still plans to hold all of its other popular free public events, including the Riverfront Food Truck Festival that will take place July 9 – July 11. More information about Riverfront’s public events can be found at riverfront.org/events.