Falmouth Fireworks in the News


An eager crowd gathered in vain in Falmouth Heights on July 5, dining from food trucks and listening to music while waiting to see a postponed Fourth of July fireworks show. Early arrivals witnessed clear blue skies darken in a foggy haze around 6:30 PM, two-and-a-half hours before the intended start at dusk.

Falmouth Fireworks president John Quesnel said committee members watched from Falmouth Heights Beach as Stephen Pelkey, who has been running the show for several decades, and the Pyrotecnico crew on the barge in the harbor disappeared from view under the setting sun and fog. Officials from the committee, the police department, and Pyrotecnico talked over the next several hours, debating if the fireworks could be set off in spite of the weather, hoping the fog would lift.

Mr. Pelkey set off a test shell just before 9 PM, lighting up the fog layer with dim colors. Two more flashes would be the only show the crowd would see before Mr. Quesnel’s voice announced at 9:30 PM over the intercom that the show could not go on.

“We had a hard decision to make,” Mr. Quesnel said in a phone call yesterday, Thursday, July 6. The crew debated if they should set off a show only faintly visible or save the fireworks for a bigger show next year. “We picked the best of two bad choices.”

The crowd surprised Mr. Quesnel. Only a few grumbles erupted as he announced the cancellation before they dispersed in an orderly fashion.

“The toughest decisions are the ones that will disappoint your friends and neighbors,” Mr. Quesnel said. “We feel more bad than they do.”

The “extremely disappointed” committee has been meeting monthly, fundraising for and organizing the show for a year, he said. The show had already been delayed, postponed from the Fourth of July on account of thunderstorms. That decision had to be made by 10 AM on July 4, before the barge in New Bedford was packed with the fireworks and set sail and support officers from state and local police departments arrived in town. Once the barge begins the passage across Buzzards Bay, one of the most expensive budget items in the contract is already committed, and the town is on the hook for the entire Falmouth Police Department being on duty for the show.

Mr. Quesnel said all of the details that went into motion once the barge left New Bedford on July 5 make rescheduling the event this year cost-prohibitive. Committee member Karen Rinaldo said the committee was hard at work trying to recoup the cost by selling T-shirts at the beach. But the fireworks themselves can be salvaged to “hopefully” make next year’s show one worth waiting for. The committee will meet on Monday to begin planning for July 4, 2024.

“We thank everyone for the support we always receive,” Mr. Quesnel said. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer with the fireworks committee can apply on its website at falmouthfireworks.org. “Then they can see how easy it is.”