Renovations at the high school and a lack of volunteers threaten Darien fireworks
Updated 6:38 pm, Tuesday, March 6, 2018
DARIEN — The town’s annual fireworks display may not take place this year.
At last week’s Selectmen’s budget approval meeting, the selectmen cut $13,000 from the budget — money allocated towards paying police officers for overtime hours for the annual fireworks event in the summer.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said last week that a group of town officials had met with the Darien Police Department to see if the event could be hosted at a town beach.
That idea was turned down by the police who cited logistical concerns. Chief of Police Ray Osborne explained why Weed Beach and Pear Tree Beach would be unsuitable locations.
“These are small beaches in residential areas with extremely limited parking not to mention there is no space for fire trucks and vendors and the people working there. There is simply not enough room,” Osborne said in an interview.
The logistics of parking and managing the movements of 2,000 to 3,000 people are also considerable factors for safety purposes. According to Osborne, holding the fireworks at the beaches have been explored by the last four police chiefs dating back to the 1980s.
“For Weed Beach, there is only one way in or out and it’s not pedestrian friendly. The same for Pear Tree Beach — there is limited parking, no sidewalks and there will be people walking with small children,” Osborne said.
Darien High School has recently seen the construction of new turf fields, a concession building and the upcoming addition to the cafeteria in the summer. While Stevenson said that these are not insurmountable challenges, they “do pose new issues to try to overcome” if the fireworks were to take place at the high school.
A dearth of volunteers has also reduced the chances of the event occurring. Currently, there are no volunteers who have signed up to help coordinate the event.
“This might warrant taking a sabbatical for town fireworks,” Stevenson said. “So far there has been no one willing to step up and run the fireworks and that’s a challenge in and of itself.”
According to Selectman Susan Marks, Susan Cameron and David Genovese were the individuals that brought back the fireworks in 2011 at the Darien High School working alongside the Darien Firefighters Foundation.
Throughout the past few years, different volunteers and organizations have helped coordinate and manage the event including Marks, Rachel Hennemuth, Stacey Tie, Shannon Keefe and the Darien Chamber of Commerce.
Marks believes that future developments in the coming weeks may allow for the event to be held again though she emphasized that volunteer efforts are needed.
“We are also looking for new volunteers to run the event. Hopefully we will have more answers within the next few weeks,” Marks said via email.