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Bringing back the boom! Shelter  Island fireworks to light up the night

The beloved tradition of the Shelter Island Fireworks will return to the sky over Crescent Beach at dusk on Saturday, July 9.

After a two-year hiatus when the COVID-19 pandemic made mass gatherings risky, the volunteers who make the event possible are getting ready for the big show. “This is my second year as president, but my first year as president where we will be having a show,” said Cat Brigham, who heads the Fireworks Board. “I remember watching the fireworks as a kid with my friends. It thrills me to watch the fireworks with those same friends and their children.”

The show costs upwards of $50,000 to put on each year, Ms. Brigham said. “Due to inflation everything is more expensive this year, from fireworks to gas for the barge.”

The traditional fireworks show, with bursts of color and light exploding high above Peconic Bay, is a treasured memory for generations of Islanders. Friends gather for barbecues on the beach before nightfall; families bring their children to sit in the sand and watch the dazzling displays, cascades reflecting in the waters below.

(Credit: Reporter file)

Yet, it almost disappeared in 2015 when the Chamber of Commerce decided it could no longer run the event. A group of volunteers got together to take it over, and with donations of all sizes from Islanders, the show continued.

Unlike most communities that host fireworks, staging them on July 4 or the holiday weekend, Shelter Island conducts its fireworks on the following weekend. This gives the Island a second weekend to attract tourists, an important boost to the hospitality businesses that depends on the limited summer season for their revenue.

Local businesses have been stalwart supporters of the event. Sunset Beach restaurant sponsored an event June 17, drawing nearly 100 guests.

New Island businesses, like The Chequit and Eccentric Bagel, stepped up to provide raffle and silent auction items, along with longtime supporters including Shore Charter Boat Cruise, Shelter Isle Sweatshirts, Shelter Island Pilates, Kelsey McGayhey, Late Night with Seth Myers, Marie Eiffel Market, Talkhouse Encore Canned Cocktails, The Lettuce Lady, Stephanie Frances Ceramics, Stars Cafe, Karen Springer and Jeanne Stedman Designs.

On Friday, July 8, SALT will host its traditional “Fireworks Eve” fundraiser, featuring a raffle with local donations, a silent auction with unique experiences and the release of this year’s Shelter Island Fireworks Swag (T-shirts and coozies designed by Cat Brigham). Guests can enjoy barbecue, have a few drinks and dance to the Realm.

While the show was canceled during the pandemic, the organization continued with fundraising events, including the first annual Shelter Island Fireworks Open at Goat Hill this past October.

The board is made up entirely of volunteers, including Brett and Kelly Surerus, Susie Dempsey, Matthew Dunning, Katy Binder and Charlie Binder.

“We do all graphic design, PR, community relations, set up and break down and hustle in house. There are no paid staff members,” Ms. Brigham said. While Island businesses are generous in their support, donations are welcome from everyone who give what they can, even a few dollars.

“We are fortunate to have the help and support of our community,” Ms. Brigham said, “in the form of the excellent Police and Fire Departments, EMS, and Highway Department who keep everyone safe and the operation running smoothly.”

What can people do to help?

Along with much needed financial support in the form of sponsorship, volunteers are welcome for events and fundraising efforts to carry this tradition on for years to come.

Donations and volunteer sign up online: shelterislandfireworks.com/

By mail: Shelter Island Fireworks, Inc, PO Box 452, Shelter Island, NY 11964 If you are a business and would like to work together please email: [email protected]