Over the next several days, leading to the New Year, the Reporter will be posting our annual Year In Review series of important stories from 2018.
This year, the now 100 percent donor-supported Shelter Island Fireworks show turned 61 after another successful year of fundraising by Shelter Island Fireworks, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) started by Island residents Brett and Kelly Surerus, Carla Cadzin and James Richardson.
The display used to be sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, but in March 2015 the organization announced that it could no longer afford to foot the bill.
The 61st annual Shelter Island Fireworks on Saturday, July 7 went off without a hitch, with hundreds of people gathering on Crescent Beach with their families to eat, drink, and be merry before the fireworks at 9 p.m. The fireworks themselves — choreographed by Guinness world-record-holding company Fireworks by Grucci (i.e., “Largest Firework Display”) were more spectacular than anyone could have imagined — a full 15 minutes of booms, crackles and cascades of sparkly light.
The only fireworks-related complaint voiced to the Reporter was that the smiley-face fireworks were upside-down.
“Why were they upside down? I didn’t understand,” said Eloise Robert, 21, who has watched the fireworks almost every summer since she was a little girl.
Considering Fireworks by Grucci’s credentials, we’re just going to assume that the upside-down smiley faces were a deliberate stylistic choice.
Father and daughter Warren Baker, 67, and Amanda Baker, 31, watched the fireworks from the bed of their truck, which was parked on Shore Road. Mr. Baker, a member of the Shelter Island Fire Department, has been coming out to the Island for 34 years, and has seen “a good majority” of the fireworks since he first arrived in 1984.
His favorite part of the show is the “festivity and the atmosphere.” “We always hope it will be grander than last year. Since we donated to the fireworks, we have every reason to hope they’ll be very good,” he said.
Amanda, who lives in New York City, was also excited by the night’s festivities, and shared some fond memories of fireworks in years past. “I remember coming when I was a little kid and seeing some cool fireworks, like a star-shaped firework and a heart-shaped firework, and I remember thinking they were better than the Manhattan Fireworks at the time. The last time I saw them was in 2012, so I’m excited for tonight,” she said.
Caitlin Cronwitt, 22, has been spending her summers on Shelter Island since she was 9, and has watched the fireworks with her family for many years.
“The Shelter Island fireworks are the best display that I’ve ever seen,” she said, adding, “I love seeing all the little kids on the beach who are always really excited. They’re always waving their colorful glow sticks and have those wavers every year.”
Friends Isla McLean, 9, and Sadie Trynin, 10, live in Sag Harbor, but have been to “at least eight Shelter Island fireworks.”
“I just love being on the beach, you’re so close,” said Isla. “I like guessing when they’ll go off.”
“I just love being here and seeing the fireworks. Once a kid gave me his light-up sword,” added Sadie.
“No matter how busy we are, we always make sure to save this weekend so we can bring the kids out here for these fireworks. They’re very special,” said Isla’s mom.