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Marblehead celebrates the Fourth of July

July 5, 2011

text and photos by Katie Freedman

Marblehead Harbor Illumination and Fourth of July “Fireworks Forever,” 2011

The harbor illumination at dusk.

Mother Nature started the light show early this year with a few spectacular lightening-filled thunderstorms of her own. However, the Marblehead Harbor Illumination and Fireworks display would not be dissuaded, nor outdone by a few passing thunderstorms. In the early evening the rain poured down and the harbor waters grew increasingly choppy. This inclement weather could not chase away some of the more hardy spectators and boaters. The harbor may have had fewer boats than in previous years and the shoreline fewer onlookers but the perimeters of Fort Sewall, Crocker Park, and Chandler Hovey Park were still lined with observers, some on their folding chairs, and others on the abundant park benches. As luck would have it, a four-ship of F-15’s circled the recently clear, evening sky over Marblehead in tight formation just prior to the Harbor Illumination. According to the Marblehead Fireworks website they were en route to Fenway Park for a flyover.

The Harbor Illumination began with the shoreline twinkling slowly to life as each red flare was lit. The red glow reflected off the freshly calmed waters of Marblehead Harborcreating a red halo which seemingly danced on the black waters of the night. The blazing halo stretched from Fort Sewall all the way around to Chandler Hovey Park. There, all eyes came to rest on the lighthouse adorned in red, white, and blue lights, which were strung from tip to toe. The desultory lighting of the flares created a dramatic hands-on effect for the onlookers. The number of boaters in attendance was made evident by the jubilant honking of the boat horns in approval of the illumination.

All horns were silenced by the first few rockets as they launched from the barge at the northeast end of the harbor. A spectacular fireworks display followed, mesmerizing the crowd for upwards of 20 minutes. From the vantage point of a boat moored close to the barge, the sound of the bursting rockets reverberated off the rocky terrain of Crocker Park and Fort Sewall with a double “boom, boom” magnifying the effect of the dazzling display. The finale was compounded with the blasts of multiple boat horns from the harbor and cheers from the shorelines. In the distance the towns of Beverly and Manchester by the sea’s fireworks could be seen low to the horizon. This barrage of Illuminations left no doubt that it was the Fourth of July in Marblehead Harbor, and everywhere on Massachusetts’s historic North Shore.


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