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Chamber forced to cancel Fourth of July fireworks

School Board says event, which can draw up to 2,000, too damaging to fields

  • peterborough, chamber, fireworks, conval high school field

PETERBOROUGH — The town’s popular Fourth of July fireworks display won’t take place this year, and organizers at the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce are studying their options for down the road, following a vote of the ConVal School Board not to allow the use of the high school athletic fields.

“We’re still evaluating the situation,” said Jack Burnett, executive director of the Chamber, on Monday. “We know it’s not going to happen this year. Our concern is going forward. It’s a great patriotic thing for a small town to have.”

At the School Board’s March 5 meeting, board chair Butch Estey said the board’s Budget and Property Committee, which Estey also chairs, recommended not allowing the fireworks event on the high school fields. The baseball field, where the fireworks are usually set off, is scheduled for reconstruction this summer and Estey said the fireworks event could damage the field.

“It really tears the place up down there,” he told the board. “We have to protect these fields. We know it will be tough for the Chamber to come up with another location.”

The board voted to endorse the recommendation of the Budget and Property Committee.

On Monday, Estey said the parking lot at the high school is also scheduled for reconstruction this summer, so it wouldn’t be available for the fireworks event.

Burnett said Monday that the event has been highly popular in the past.

“It can draw a couple of thousand people,” he said. “We can raise about $3,000, depending on the weather.”

He said the Chamber pays for police and fire protection at the event, but much of the cost of producing the fireworks display is offset by generous corporate supporters. That has enabled the Chamber to run a family event, with a cost of $2 a person and a maximum entrance fee of $10 per car.

“Thanks to the generosity of Petersons Inc and Atlas Pyrovision and the town of Peterborough, we are usually able to make a profit, which goes into a student awards program at ConVal,” Burnett said.

A number of local organizations also use the fireworks as a fundraising opportunity, he said, and they have been notified that the event won’t happen this year.

Estey said Monday that the board’s decision is expected to be permanent, although it could be reviewed in the future.

“We are putting a lot of money into our fields,” he said. “After they are used for large events, they are really torn up.”

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