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Weston skies light up on 4th of July

Despite thunderstorms that threatened to put a damper on the fireworks display — but ultimately held off to the final moments of the pyrotechnic light show — Weston’s Fourth of July celebration went off without a hitch.

“It was a real nice night,” said Dave Ungar, Weston’s director of parks and recreation, who is in charge of coordinating the annual Weston Family Fourth. “We had no issues. The crowd was wonderful … I think a good time was definitely had by all,” he said.

Mr. Ungar estimates about 2,500 people attended this year’s fireworks display over Weston Middle School on a Wednesday, July 4, down from last year’s record of about 3,000.

Temperatures in the upper 90s all of last week, the threat of rain Wednesday night, and the fact the Fourth fell on mid-week this year all probably contributed to the lower attendance, Mr. Ungar said.

But, he added, those who were there were treated to lots of community mingling, good food from Leo Spinelli’s Burrito Shack, music from the Straight Note Chasers and the Westport Community Band, some tricks from the Magic Genie (Weston’s own Nissan Evantoff), and a spectacular fireworks display, set up once again by Atlas Pyrotechnics from Jaffery, N.H.

Mr. Ungar, whose day begins early in the morning on July Fourth, said it is impressive to watch Atlas set up the fireworks near Revson Field. They arrive about 11 a.m. and unpack truckloads of mortar racks, shells and rockets.

After the fire marshal inspects all the equipment — because of the proximity to the schools and houses, no shells larger than five inches in diameter are allowed — it takes trained workers from Atlas all day to wire and set timers on the explosives.

Mr. Ungar said he and the folks from Atlas were watching the radar closely all day, since thunderstorms had been predicted for Wednesday evening. At 9 a.m., there was a 50% chance of storms hitting between 9 and 10 p.m.; by 6 p.m., that chance had gone down to just 10%, Mr. Ungar said, so everyone involved was fairly confident the show would be uninterrupted.

And it was — almost.

The first firework was shot off at exactly 9:20 and the skies stayed clear until the final moments of the finale almost a half-hour later.

That was when the skies opened up and it “came down cats and dogs,” Mr. Ungar said.

First Selectman Gayle Weinstein was there and she described the finale as “torrential.” It didn’t at all dampen the spirits of those in attendance, though, she said. “I had the best time, visiting with my friends and relaxing,” she said. “The fireworks were absolutely fantastic.”

Mr. Ungar agreed. “It’s one of my favorite days of the year. I really enjoy it.”

One advantage of the last-minute rain, he said, was the crowd cleared more quickly than usual. Traffic was backed up briefly, but nothing out of the ordinary for the Fourth of July.

“The Weston PD did an fantastic job of getting everyone out in an orderly fashion. One day a year of traffic madness is not bad,” Mr. Ungar said.

He said his favorite part of the night is taking just a minute to pause at the end of the finale and just listen. “You hear this slight pause, then a big roar from the crowd, and I know it sounds corny, but it makes me so happy,” he said.

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