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July 4th, 2023 Fireworks from Fountain Park

For the past 40 years, my husband and I have viewed the July 4th fireworks from two vantage points, from Fort Sewall in the days when the fireworks were set off on the Causeway, and since Fountain Park when the fireworks switched locations and are set off from a barge at the mouth of the Marblehead Harbor.


Yesterday, in the evening hours approaching the start time of 9:15 pm, the town itself was filled with the joy of people moving towards their viewing destinations. The whole town was alive with locals and visitors in the know. The one hundred or so people of all ages gathered on Fountain Park were in a festive mood – families together, kids laughing and playing with sparklers, excitement building for the fantastic fireworks display.


No one was in a hurry. No one cared that the display began 15 minutes late. We all were just enjoying the local scenery. But finally, boom, boom boom – the opening fireworks sounded and all eyes turned towards the sky. A moment of disbelief and shock – nothing! Boom boom boom again. Nothing. Then everyone broke out in laughter. Sound but no light. The fog wafted up from the water below. So thick, you could barely make out anything – neither the boats in the Harbor, nor the ring of lights rosy afterglow around the Harbor. Boom boom boom. More nothing. More laughter and disbelief.


After many minutes passed, you could see the faintest glimpse of sparkling light. For no reason one or two fireworks got up high enough, or were set off at a moment of parting fog. The grand finale was particularly hilarious. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom boom… on and on. One could see a pale reflection of what we used to know to be true. So dim, you weren’t sure it was real. It was a grand finale of the fireworks only of booms and barely any flashes of light.


Did people realize that this is THE FIRST or if not THE FIRST, the MOST OBVIOUS of July 4ths that is affected by climate change. The fires in Canada, the air quality, the low to no visibility of what is immediately in front of you.


Recall that twice in June and once so far in July, the air quality index has increased to dangerous levels. With it, visibility has decreased and what are normally sunny blue summer days and clear night skies are overcast skies, or, in the case of the Marblehead fireworks, invisible light displays


Rules of thumb regarding climate change: for every drought, a downpour; dry places get dryer; wet places get wetter.


Last night we saw only the barest glimpsed of fireworks, but it rained down the truth of climate change. Privileged as we are, we all lived the Spirit of July Fourth as if there were no tomorrow.


Susan Murcott,

Atlantic Avenue