20-year fireworks tradition canceled
Planners say cost too high after threat
JAFFREY — The Jaffrey Festival of Fireworks, a more than 20-year tradition, has come to an end, after a letter to town officials threatening mass violence cancelled the 23rd annual event in 2012.
Festival organizers — Jaffrey Chamber of Commerce, Atlas PyroVision Productions and Silver Ranch Airpark — wrote in a joint press released emailed to the Ledger-Transcript on Monday that increased public safety costs to protect future festivalgoers could not be met without significantly raising ticket prices.
“We are all deeply saddened by this decision to no longer host the annual summer event held each August at the [Silver Ranch Airpark],” according to the press release. “The committee would like to thank the many festival volunteers over the years, as well as the local businesses, nonprofit organizations and all of the family, friends and fans who have overwhelmingly supported the Jaffrey Festival of Fireworks.”
Festival of Fireworks Co-Chairs Cyndy Burgess and Cathy Furze said they had no additional information about the decision to end the festival by press time Monday. Further details, they said, would be made available this week.
Harvey and Lee Sawyer of Silver Ranch Airpark and Atlas’ Chief Executive Officer Steve Pelkey also declined to comment Monday.
In November 2012, the festival’s partners announced a $1,000 reward to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the August letter in which the anonymous writer blames town officials’ for the loss of his home and warns them that people would be injured and killed at the festival.
Investigation into the source of the letter, which was received by local police, the chamber and the Keene Sentinel on Aug. 16, 2012, is ongoing, according to police. The letter stated that the festival would be the scene of death and destruction, prompting the organizers to cancel the event out of concern for public safety.
The letter, which is addressed to “all the Jaffrey selectmen and all town officials” reads, “All of you are in your happy homes but some of us are not in our happy homes because of your poor decisions. ... I have a lot more time on my hands since I have no job or home anymore but I had a little stash to invest and with my extensive military training I will be setting off my own fireworks display on Saturday and it will not be a crowd pleaser to all your fun festivalgoers who are there.”
In the final section of the letter, the writer describes the extent of the brutality he or she had planned for the event, while addressing the Jaffrey Fire Department: “I am sorry of the scene [that] will arrive on Saturday as [there] will be a lot of blood, perhaps some dismembered bodies and most likely multiple deaths.”
Jaffrey police called upon state and federal authorities — including the N.H. Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Attorney, N.H. State Police, the U.S. Postal Service, the FBI and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — in August to probe the letter’s source. More than eight months later no one has been prosecuted.
Police are encouraging anyone with information about the letter to contact the Jaffrey Police Department at 532-7865.
Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.