ConVal board says no more July 4 fireworks on school field
PETERBOROUGH - The decade-long tradition of Fourth of July fireworks at ConVal High School is no more.
Earlier this month, the Contoocook Valley Regional School District Board decided it did not want thousands of people tramping across the athletic fields during the driest month of the year. The decision was made by the full board March 5.
The Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce-produced show is unlikely to find another location by July 4, Jack Burnett, the chamber's executive director, said.
"The concerning thing is we were never consulted at all ... We didn't really realize they were considering a permanent ban," Burnett said Monday.
Money raised by the chamber at the fireworks show goes into the chamber's awards program for ConVal High School students for being good citizens and students, Burnett said.
"It wasn't anything against the chamber of commerce," Matthew Craig, ConVal School Board representative from Sharon, said. "It wasn't meant to be anything punitive or mean, but we have to start protecting the field we spend a good amount of district money on to maintain for use of the students."
Craig, a member of the school board subcommittee for Budget & Property, said the discussion started at a Budget and Property meeting in February when Athletic Director Tim Grossi said the chamber had requested to use the field again this summer - after a parking lot construction project was completed.
The subject kicked off a discussion on the amount of money invested in various athletic fields used for the fireworks show.
"We knew they were considering us not doing it this year because they had a lot of construction going on. But they decided to not let us ever do it again," Burnett said.
The chamber, along with sponsors The Petersons Real Estate and Atlas Pyrovision, are still evaluating the situation, Burnett said. Finding a new location for the July Fourth firework show is not going to be easy, he said.
"It takes a large area with a lot of parking and safety space," he said. "You can't just put it in farmer John's field."
Local non-profits raise money selling food at the event, he said. And on a good year the chamber could raise $3,000, Burnett said. The chamber's ConVal High awards program gives students $20 gift cards that can be used at local merchants. The chamber usually gives away about $1,000 worth of these gift certificates a month through the school year, Burnett said.
The Peterson family of The Petersons Real Estate has been a big contributor to the event, keeping the entrance cost at $2 per person and a maximum of $10 per car load, Burnett said.
"It's not just fundraising, he said. "It's a patriotic thing too."