Perhaps New Haven’s greatest – and hands down most patriotic – showing of almost-public art burst into the sky from the top of “Indian Head” Rock just east of East Rock
It was the annual Fourth of July fireworks display, postponed to Saturday because of rain. Set to a soundtrack that also included a 10-minute loop of Bruce Springsteen’s Vietnam-themed “Born in the USA” and John Phillip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” the nearly 30 minute demonstration lit up the sky to oohs, aahs, and the occasional New Havener singing along. (Click on the video to see and hear highlights.)
Particularly dazzling were a series of fireworks that blinked in and out like great fireflies in the night, leaving in their wake a black tarp of sky pulled canvas-taut for the next pyrosplatter (most evident in the video).
Or red, white and blue explosions that drew sharp whistles and murmurs of admiration from the diverse crowd, which included kids of all ages.
Some of these delighted even further, transforming long, spindly-legged things into red-hot balls of light streaming stars.
“It’s a very nice thing they’ve done for the community,” said new New Havener Harlene Sullivan (pictured), a transplant from New Britain. Son Isaiah – whilst learning to take his first patriotic selfie (pictured below), replete with backwards face paint – expressed joy at the fireworks with a shriek of laughter and quick “Yes!”
As in any exhibition, some of the best surprises were saved for last. During “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” several fireworks stretched across the sky like fingers from a large palm, hanging majestically (if not a bit frighteningly) over viewers at the foot of East Rock, their familiar sky turned into an IMAX screen for mere moments.
And the finale? Downright American, honoring the country as a “beacon of freedom” as a panoply of fireworks overlapped in great, booming succession.
“The fireworks were wonderful,” said Jennie Waldow, a young Manhattanite who has come to know New Haven over years of visiting friends here. “It was great to see the New Haven community out in full force, enjoying the music and festivities.”
Little did Waldow know, she had hit the nail on the head, or rather, set the match to the wick (or the hands to the explosive lever): As families young and old, groups of friends, and canoodling couples gathered under the loud and glimmering sky, they were celebrating not just America, but a specific community within it.
How fitting then that it exploded into magnificent color as the fireworks ended, the sound of laughter and conversation wafting from the top of East Rock to the base of Orange Street and beyond long after the smoke had cleared and the sky had become again quiet, twinkling with the occasional star.