Brentwood fireworks tradition goes silent

Union Leader Correspondent
July 04. 2013 8:15PM

BRENTWOOD — Greg and Alysia Bouchard planned to catch Brentwood’s spectacular Fourth of July fireworks display that has awed generations of local families for more than two decades.

“They were very good for a small town,” Greg recalled as he held his 19-month-old daughter, Ellie, before the town’s Independence Day parade began Thursday.

The fireworks held at the Rockingham County Nursing Home have been a tradition for the Bouchards, but that tradition ended this year when the few volunteers who collect donations were unable to pull it off.

Without the $6,500 in donated funds to cover the cost of the display and new volunteers to carry on the effort, the fireworks display fizzled.

The fireworks were first held at the Rockingham County Nursing Home in 1992 when the town hosted its 250th anniversary celebration.

The show was well received and prompted then-Police Chief Bill Vahey to place a $10 bill down on the table and insist that it become an annual show.

The late Norman “Red” Byrne, a long-time Brentwood fire chief, followed Vahey’s suggestion and went door-to-door to collect donations. Volunteers eventually took over fundraising and planning for the event, but it became too much for them. They hoped others would step forward and take over.

Residents were still treated to the town’s annual parade Thursday morning, but they said they’ll miss the fireworks.

Cam Miner of Brentwood was always a big fan of the show, but understands the challenges that faced the volunteers who did their best for so many years.

“It makes you appreciate what you have,” he said.

His wife, Lorri, was also disappointed.

“It’s sad, but it’s understandable. It takes a lot to raise money,” she said.

Aware that the Brentwood fireworks wouldn’t be held this year, some headed off to Portsmouth for Wednesday night’s show while others planned to see displays at Hampton Beach and Durham. While they were glad they still had options, they said it’s not the same as watching them in their own town.

With the fireworks over, several residents said they were pleased to see the parade continue.

“This is a small town and you get to see everyone you haven’t seen in a month since school got out. It’s just a small town parade,” said Brandie Bolduc, who watched the parade with her 11-year-old son, Gage.

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