AMESBURY — The threat of thunderstorms has postponed tonight’s annual Amesbury Days July 4th fireworks show until Friday at 9:15 p.m., the mayor’s office announced yesterday.
The concert leading into the fireworks as well as the food vendors and games scheduled to run from 5 to 9 p.m. today at Woodsom Farm have also been moved to Friday.
Mayor Thatcher Kezer announced the postponement about 12:30 p.m. yesterday after weather forecasts showed a high probability of showers and thunderstorms throughout the afternoon and into the evening.
Kezer said the decision was made in large part because any significant rain throughout the day would have an adverse impact on the festivities.
“The behind-the-scenes efforts for the July 4 festivities begin early in the afternoon,” Kezer said in a press release. “Even a late-afternoon downpour could pose safety threats to those involved in the set-up procedures.”
Kezer said moving the display to Friday would give everyone a bigger bang for their buck and a better experience overall. The National Weather Service is forecasting ideal conditions for Friday, with temperatures expected to be around 68 degrees by nightfall.
Kate Broughton, chairwoman of the Amesbury Days Committee, said the city opted for a postponement in hopes of avoiding a repeat of what happened last year when a similar storm moved through Amesbury on July 4. The city went ahead with the fireworks nonetheless, but the size of the crowd on hand for the show was significantly reduced.
“What happened last year was, even though there was this huge storm coming through, you could tell on the radar it was going to pass,” Broughton said. “But at that point, the musicians were soaked, the tents were ruined, and even though it all cleared by the time the fireworks went off, hardly anyone had stuck around.”
Kezer added that many people last year decided not to risk going to Woodsom Farm at all given the chance the fireworks would be canceled, while others stayed home because they didn’t want to contend with the soaked fields.
Of the $20,000 it takes to put on the 12-day Amesbury Days celebration, $15,000 is spent on the fireworks display. The city has raised $16,000 so far this year and is now relying on community participation in the form of parking fees at Woodsom Farm for the fireworks show to help close the remaining $4,000 gap.
Parking for Friday’s fireworks will cost $2 per car at Amesbury High School and $3 per car at Woodsom Farm.
Broughton said that while many residents have expressed frustration at being charged to park for the event, she stressed the reason for the fee is because the Amesbury Days Committee included a community participation contribution in its budget so that the entire cost of the celebration wouldn’t fall solely on private businesses.
She said 99.9 percent of the expenses for Amesbury Days is paid for by private donations and businesses, with none of it being financed by municipal funds.
“The parking fee (for each car) represents .01 percent of our budget, but we still need it. It’s still something that needs to be raised, and that was factored into the budget,” Broughton said.
The Amesbury Days Pancakes in the Pines Breakfast hosted by the United Methodist Church that is scheduled for 7 to 11 a.m. today was still on as of last night. But organizers were expected to monitor weather conditions and make a decision first thing this morning. Any change of plans will be posted on the United Methodist Church’s website at www.amesburyumc.org or residents can call 978-388-9098.