Sunday, March 15, 2009

No Fireworks Show for Smith Point

As a child, I recall celebrating the Fourth of July with neighborhood barbeques, bicycle parades, swimming, music and of course fireworks. We used to decorate our bikes with red, white and blue streamers, wear red, white or blue clothes, buy 'punks' from the local candy store and light sparklers or firecrackers. Fireworks were always part of any Independence Day celebration. It was a tradition.

While my kids were growing up, fireworks were off limits in the backyard, but our friends and family would often camp at Smith Point County Park during the summer. We loved to reserve a campsite for Fourth of July because there is nothing better that sitting by your camper at Smith Point, looking north over the Great South Bay and watching the beautiful display of fireworks from the "mainland". It was a tradition.

In years past, when the Carnival and Fireworks shows were held at the Park, it was a treat to be able to walk to the show from the campground. When we didn't have a camping reservation, we'd simply walk out to the parkway and down to the bridge to see the fireworks or hear the music from the concerts. It was always a great way to celebrate Independence Day and although it brought some issues for the homeowners along the canal streets and along William Floyd Parkway, it also brought a sense of pride being the only community in Suffolk County to host the big Independence Day celebration. For several years, it was the tradition.

Unfortunately the controversy surrounding the Smith Point Park July 4th Carnival and Fireworks show outweighed the positive community pride - and so they were no more.

Last year, however, the Montauk Merchants Association and the Chamber of Commerce secured a grant and applied to once again to hold this great summer event at Smith Point County Park. Meetings were held, the pros and cons discussed, details worked out, but ultimately it could not be ironed out in time and again there was no show.

This year, the Carnival and Fireworks show was proposed for Smith Point but once again the details could not be ironed out. The approvals were received to hold a Carnival at Smith Point Park, but without the Fireworks show. While some might say a carnival is better than nothing, it short changes the community of an event as American as apple pie - Fourth of July fireworks. There is no better place to hold a fireworks show than the beach. If all of the County departments were willing to do their share in support of this once-a-year event, it could have brought some revenue to local businesses, gave families a fun holiday weekend destination during these hard economic times and helped to restore a more positive image of our community. It's a shame that the voices of those community advocates speaking in support of a Fireworks show fell on deaf ears or were drowned out by the few who opposed it.

As of this writing, the plans for the Fourth of July celebration at Smith Point are off the table. I guess the 'tradition' of a July 4th fireworks show will be left to some other community.

But hey, there's always next year!