Fourth of July planning underway – fireworks donations needed
Visiting Block Island, it is often said, is akin to stepping back in time. But Block Island behind the times? Nonsense.
In fact, Block Island’s weathered, tough-as-nails year-round population declared its independence on March 2, 1774, fully two years before the Declaration of Independence was signed. And nowhere will that independence be celebrated with more sizzle (and family fun) than over this year’s Fourth of July weekend.
And how did we get here, you ask?
John Adams’s letter to his wife, Abigail informing her that the Continental Congress had declared independence in 1776 really started it all: “This day ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games … Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more,” inscribed a giddy Adams. And so began the birth and tradition of parades, parties and fireworks.
This year, Block Island’s Double-Ender Committee decided that something truly special needed to be done for families to celebrate this year following Covid deaths, sickness, masking, Ukraine atrocities, and just the mental stress of the last two years.
Lars Trodson, member of the Double Ender Committee and president of the Block Island Chamber of Commerce, outlined one big change to this year’s weekend celebrations - offshore fireworks - floated from New London to the island on a barge, from a new, renowned practitioner, Ocean State Pyrotechnics.
“We’ll launch the fireworks on Friday night July 1, about 2,000 feet offshore,” said Trodson, “dramatically improving safety, and viewscapes from the entire east side of the island as well as New Harbor.” A team of experienced technicians will light the night’s display from the safety of the barge, versus being onshore where residents and visitors restricted the scope of what previously could be offered due to safety concerns, while the
ocean will reflect the colors of the display like a mirror.
President George Bush’s “A thousand points of light,” indeed.
“By combining modern electronics with traditional Italian and Oriental technologies from many generations past, we take the best from both worlds and use it to create spectacular displays,” says Ocean State CEO John Ruggieri. The company has a long-standing reputation for excellence from the town of Provincetown to the Bonnet Shores Beach Club and the iconic Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. “Block Island deserves to
celebrate and be wowed, and the barge will allow us to be more creative in what we can bring.”
That wow comes with an additional price tag, but one that, shared across the island, is doable. “We need an additional $12,000 to $15,000 over past years to deliver the fireworks from this barge versus the beach,” along with funds to support the entire weekend’s festivities, said Trodson.
The committee would like to thank the Block Island Tourism Council for being a sponsor for the fireworks display, and Block Island Realty, Beach Real Estate, Sullivan Sotheby’s, Ballard Hall Sales Group, Lila Delman, and Phillips Real Estate for their sponsorship of the barge.
Despite these generous donations, the Double Ender Celebrations Committee is still seeking donations to help support the parade and fireworks displays. “Any level of support from the community will be greatly appreciated,” said Trodson.
The trade-off? Tourists flock to the island and leave behind millions of dollars in but a few days in hotels, house rentals, cabs, and restaurants and bars, many of which will offer daily live entertainment as well.
Monday, July 4 will bring the annual parade, stepping off at 11 a.m. from The Oar, going through Bridgegate Square and ending in Old Harbor. Unique to Block Island, everyone is invited to dress up, walk, sing, dance, create a unique float and participate.
“We hope for record turnout,” said Trodson, who noted “this year’s theme is ‘Celebrating Block Island’ and we know we’ll see some great, creative floats.”
“To pull it off, we need corporate and personal donations to the Double Ender Committee which is planning and coordinating the festivities,” emphasized Trodson. Checks can be made out and sent to: Double Ender Celebrations, Inc., P.O. Box 808, Block Island, RI 02807. Volunteers to help with the parade logistics and crowds are also needed and can contact the Chamber for more information or to sign-up.