Communities struggle to save holiday fireworks tradition after R - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Communities struggle to save holiday fireworks tradition after Riverfest canceled

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Many communities are struggling to afford holiday fireworks displays. (WFSB) Many communities are struggling to afford holiday fireworks displays. (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

There will not be any fireworks this year at Riverfest due to money problems, but Hartford is not the only place where communities are struggling to maintain the Fourth of July tradition.

Some towns launched grassroots efforts to keep their fireworks going.

In Clinton, residents set up a GoFundMe page several months ago to raise $10,000.

The city of West Haven moved the date of its fireworks display from Sunday to this Friday to save some money.

By moving the fireworks to a weekday, the city said it will save about 40 percent on cleanup costs.

Eyewitness News learned that Norwich also canceled its fireworks this year.

The annual tradition, which costs $35,000, is not funded through tax dollars but through fundraising and donations.

Organizers said they will begin raising money for 2017 very soon.

As for Riverfest, Mayor Luke Bronin said he hopes the tradition will pick back up next year through fundraising.

He claimed that the budget is tight, and the city just cannot afford to cover the cost of police and fire services for the event.

"It is disappointing we will have to cancel Riverfest," said Mike Zaleski, who has spent months organizing Riverfest. "It's a significant endeavor to put on an event like Riverfest. Typically attracts a couple hundred thousand people and once you put fireworks on the river you need to bring into account, lots of police and fire for safety."

Those who are organizing Winterfest said budget cuts could force them to make changes. Winterfest is held in Bushnell Park and it's big attraction is free ice skating and lessons.

The event starts the day after Thanksgiving and runs until the end of January.

"We are trying to appeal to individuals, corporations and other funders who want to step up to the plate and help us fund Winterfest," said Jackie Mandyck, Winterfest organizer.

In previous years, the city has given about $150,000 to Winterfest but if they can't get the money, they could be forced to cancel the event.

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