Arthur's Expected Effects Force Maine Cities and Towns to Delay Fireworks

Jul 3, 2014

So much for setting out the lawn chairs early and getting a good seat for fireworks tomorrow night. The National Weather Service forecast has put a big damper on the Independence Day plans for many cities and towns this weekend.

Severe thunderstorms are expected tonight and into tomorrow; rain is also likely to continue for much of Friday. And as Hurricane Arthur passes offshore, coastal areas can expect heavy surf along with the rain. This means that many planned celebrations are being postponed.

The planned blowout may be turning into a washout on the Fourth of July itself. But many cities and towns are rescheduling fireworks for later this weekend. In Portland, against a backdrop of rain and thunder, Jon Jennings, co-chair of July 4th Portland, announced the planned Stars and Stripes Spectacular is being moved to Saturday, same time, same place at the Eastern Promenade Park.

"And the reason why we're making this decision today is because we are most concerned about the safety and welfare of all the people that will come out, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the city workers and others," Jennings says.

And in Lewiston and Auburn, the Liberty Festival will take place on Sunday instead. Cathy McDonald is the Liberty Festival's president.

"Tomorrow the rain was 80 percent chance of rain for tomorrow. And then they're looking, from what we got from a report from Central Maine Pyrotechnics, was two-thirds of the state is going to have rain on Saturday until at least 2:00 pm," McDonald says. "And then they're talking about wind gusts between 16 and 41 miles per hour. And you can't shoot the fireworks off with that kind of wind gusts."

McDonald says her group didn't want to set up on Saturday and have to postpone the event a second time. So, Sunday night, the show will go on beginning at 5:00. McDonald says it's disappointing, but there's still time for people to change their plans.

In Augusta, the parade is tentatively scheduled to go on. But the fireworks are being postponed for nearly a month - until Aug. 2.

"It's a very difficult decision to make. We've all worked so hard. Many people on the committees and so forth have put in some countless hours, and it appears that weather-wise, it's just not going to come to fruition," says Jim Goulet, the director of parks for the city of Augusta. "We're looking at thunderstorm activity during that period of time that the vendor would have to set up his fireworks, and that's not a very good thing."

In Bangor, however, the Fourth of July celebration is scheduled to go on as planned Friday. City officials say there will be a last-minute meeting Friday morning to decide whether any part of the schedule should change.  

"If people have questions they should pay attention to media reports and television and radio announcements, because again, things could change due to the weather," says Sgt. Tim Cotton, with the Bangor Police Department.

People are also encouraged to check their city's or town's Web site or Facebook page. Many other cities and towns are also calling off the fireworks celebrations, at least for Friday night.