The upcoming fireworks show is a rite of passage for children and a beloved tradition for adults.
For more than six decades the pyrotechnic display has been a mid-summer ritual that brings everyone on Crescent Beach — and other vantages around the Island — together for a celebration of family, home and the nation’s independence.
The great July event has become something more than just a celebration for Shelter Island. It has been transformed into a shining example of citizens not accepting the status quo, but working with each other to change it.
In March 2015, the Chamber of Commerce announced it could no longer afford to sponsor the fireworks, and Islanders feared that after 57 consecutive years, the annual gathering would be no more.
But a group of Island residents — Carla Cadzin, James Richardson, and husband and wife Brett and Kelly Surerus — stepped up, put their heads together and figured out how to make it happen. They had all remembered the communal joy of Shelter Island fireworks when they were children, and wanted to present an experience for their children and all Islanders and visitors of looking skyward on a summer night to be awed and delighted.
The group created a nonprofit corporation, started a GoFundMe page, promoted the effort tirelessly and donations rolled in.
This group of young people didn’t just accept congratulations, but have worked every year since to keep the fireworks as part of the Island’s life, only interrupted by the pandemic.
This year many businesses have stepped up to support the community event, and we should all support them. The list includes Sunset Beach restaurant, which 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.
Saturday’s show is destined to be one of the best ever and congratulations are due in advance to the Shelter Island Police Department for always managing a large event with safety as its first ideal, and accomplishing the mission with courtesy and professionalism.
The Fire Department and EMS crews play a critical part of the event, adding a sense of security to the evening. And a special thank you goes to the ever-reliable Highway Department crews for their assistance.
The show speaks clearly about the virtues of taking care of a special place, and of pitching in to keep alive the traditions that make us who we are.