Was that the end? Crew chief's sudden illness led to premature firing of grande finale of Laconia's 4th of July fireworks display
Published DateLACONIA — For some the fireworks display at Opechee Park on the Fourth of July may have echoed the celebrated poet T.S. Eliot, who closed the "The Hollow Men" with the lines "This is the way the world ends, Not with a bang but a whimper."
Kevin Dunleavy, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, which staged the fireworks, said that the problem began when one of the technicians employed by RS Display Fireowrks of Hudson, was taken ill while preparing for the display.
Fire Chief Ken Erickson said that EMTs responded by the Zodiac inflatable boat to what was reported as a cardiac arrest on a barge in Lake Opechee, but found that the man, who had apparently worked long hours for four days in the heat, was dehydrated. He was treated at the scene and taken to Lakes Region General Hospital for observation
Dunleavy said that without him the crew was short the one person holding a certificate of competency required by the Office of the State Fire Marshall to conduct a fireworks display. As result, the start of the fireworks, which was scheduled for 10 p.m., was delayed for about 20 minutes.
Then, Dunleavy said, the sequencing of the display, which is controlled electronically, went awry, when the grand finale was fired about two-thirds of the way into the performance. Describing the ending as "non-climactic," Dunleavy said "I was confused. I had to turn on the lights and was waiting for the grande finale that had already gone off."
Acknowledging that some may have been "a little disappointed," Dunleavy said that "overall we are pleased.' He said that the company responded well and "we got what we paid for."
This year was the first that RS Display Fireworks, which promises "to bring to fireworks, the same excitement Ben and Jerry's brings to ice cream," conducted the fireworks. In addition, the city budgeted $12,000 instead of the usual $10,000 for the event. Dunleavy said that the company used larger shells that skied higher and burst brighter than those fired in the past.
"We got our money's worth," he said.