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Independence Day celebrations to light the sky across the Pioneer Valley

  • South Hadley put on about a 30-minute fireworks show to cap off the town’s Independence Day celebration in 2016. This year’s show, behind Michael E. Smith Middle School, is Monday. Gazette Staff/Kevin Gutting



Staff Writer
Friday, June 30, 2017

Looking for a chance to experience “the rockets’ red glare?” Look no further. Several Pioneer Valley communities have big plans for the Independence Day weekend, and everyone is welcome.

South Hadley

South Hadley will celebrate Independence Day with its annual fireworks at Michael E. Smith Middle School on Monday night.

The event, which kicks off at 6 p.m., will also include music, games and food from local nonprofits. Fireworks begin at 9:30.

The National Weather Service predicts sunny skies Monday evening, but if it rains, the event will be rescheduled for Wednesday.

Admission is free.

Chesterfield

A parade, live music, classic car show and more will commemorate Independence Day in Chesterfield as a part of the town’s 70th annual July 4th celebration.

Town Administrator Sue Labrie said the parade will begin at 10:30 a.m. on South Street, then progress to the town center and turn left on Main Road. Visitors can expect temperatures in the 70s, perhaps reaching near 80, during the celebration.

The classic car show will begin after the drivers finish the parade at 11:30 a.m. In the past, cars participated in the parade then left, but this year they will stick around in the town offices parking lot.

Live entertainment will start at 8:30 a.m. in the town center, according to a flier on the town’s website, and Sidetracked, a rock and country band, will perform at the car show from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Other attractions include a petting zoo, art display and magic show. Labrie said everything is free to the public except a pancake breakfast benefiting firefighters from 7-10 a.m. and a chicken barbecue from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

South Amherst

South Amherst residents will stage an annual Independence Day event Tuesday morning on the Fiddlers Green, the common between South East and Middle streets.

Beginning at around 9 a.m., the event will include a children’s parade, with kids decked out in costumes, and food such as watermelon and drinks.

Amherst

A long tradition of celebrating Independence Day in Amherst continues Tuesday evening on the fields near the University of Massachusetts football stadium with live music, carnival games and a pie-eating contest before fireworks are set off.

The town’s Leisure Services and Supplemental Education department is again organizing the Fourth of July celebration, which begins at 5 p.m., about 4.5 hours prior to the fireworks lighting up the sky.

Barbara Bilz, LSSE’s interim director, said the celebration, which draws at least 5,000 people to the site, will be much the same as previous years.

“We’re trying to keep it much like a community event,” Bilz said.

Bounce houses, a “roaming railroad” and hot air balloon rides will be set up, and contests will include one to eat blueberry pies and another to husk corn.

At 7 p.m., Six Flags Famous Friends will arrive so children can have their pictures taken with popular cartoon characters.

There are small fees for some of the activities, Bilz said.

Concessions stands will serve hamburgers and hot dogs and other fair food, such as cotton candy, popcorn and kettle corn and fried dough. Smoothies will also be available.

On the main stage at 8:15 p.m., the Amherst Community Band will play up until the fireworks show at 9:30 p.m.

Parking on site in Lots 21, 22, and 33 is $5, but UMass Transit will be running buses from outlying campus lots where people can park for free.

Bizl said the fireworks alone cost $10,000, and sponsors and individual donors help offset some of this. Some of the 40 to 50 volunteers on site, who will help with parking and carnival games, will also be passing donation buckets to collect money. A raffle will also be with prizes for local businesses.

UMass Police helps to patrol and keep the event safe, Bilz said, while the Hadley Fire Department will be on scene to prevent any dangers from the fireworks.

People can picnic on site and bring blankets and chairs, but the event prohibits use of tobacco, marijuana and alcohol.

...and more!

Other Independence Day events across the Pioneer Valley include:

  • Music, food, children’s activities are scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday (with fireworks at 9:30 p.m.), Beacon Field, Greenfield.
  • Star Spangled Springfield celebrates Tuesday at Riverfront Park at 7 p.m. with a concert by 215th Army Band followed by fireworks at 9:30 p.m. from Memorial Bridge.
  • Free Family Jazz, Tuesday, 4 p.m., Deerfield Riverbank, Charlemont Bridge.
  • Ice Cream Social, with homemade sauces, Tuesday, 2-4 p.m. Clark Chapman House Museum, 234 College Highway, Southampton.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com. Nyssa Kruse contributed to this story.