Fireworks are a well-established July 4 tradition. In Saugerties, the Independence Day celebration begins in the morning with a parade and continues throughout the day, culminating with a fireworks display at 10 p.m.
The 10 p.m. start time is an estimate, as it follows the Saugerties Stallions baseball game. For the second year in a row, this year’s display was more than a half hour late because of an injury to one of the baseball players; last year, the game went into extra innings. The delay disappointed people, especially those with young children. Many of them left, rather than waiting for the show.
Saugerties Director of Town Parks and Buildings Greg Chorvas said the late finish for the game, and thus the late start for the fireworks, was the result of an injury to Albany Dutchmen’s catcher Ty Gallagher [a Saugerties resident] that delayed the game as the player was treated and a substitute catcher warmed up.
Town Supervisor Fred Costello said the late start, which generated many complaints from Town residents who came for the traditional July 4 fireworks, not the baseball game, will not happen again. “There’s a balance; baseball and July 4 fireworks are both apple pie American,” said Costello. “The Town is seeking an earlier start for the game, so that even an injury or extra innings would not delay the fireworks start,” at the advertised time of 10 p.m. “We understand the need for collegiate baseball leagues and the Stallions; these leagues are for college athletes who are hoping to become professional players,” he said. “We are working with the Stallions to find a solution. The Stallions “are the leading team this year and surely some accommodation could be made.”
A look at the Albany Dutchmen’s schedule shows several games starting at 6:35 p.m. and others start at 7:05, the same time as Saugerties. While fans that come to the game on July 4 may have to wait for the fireworks, or go home and come back, the fireworks will have to start at the advertised time of 10 p.m., Costello said, and discussions are in progress with the league.
In addition to disgruntled residents who had expected fireworks to start at 10 p.m., the sponsors of the fireworks also expressed disappointment. Chorvas said he is sure the games will start earlier next year. The time is still being worked out, but it will be earlier.
While Albany, the opposing team on July 4, is fairly close to Saugerties, “the starting time takes into account the fact that some teams have long travel times and it would be difficult for them to get to Saugerties much earlier,” Chorvas said. He cited Jamestown, which is a trip of more than six hours. There have also been occasions when games ended early, and people complained about having to wait until 10 p.m. if they wanted to watch the fireworks.
In comparison to events around the world today, a delay in the start of fireworks seems almost inconsequential, Chorvas said. For instance, in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, seven people were killed by a gunman, and many more injured. The Associated Press reported three other fatal shootings took place on July 4 in various cities.
After last year’s late start, Town Councilwoman Leeanne Thornton warned when the Town Board approved the game schedule that the late start could happen again, and that the board needed to do something to prevent a repetition. This year, the delay happened again, and Thornton said she, along with Costello, Chorvas and league officials, is looking for a solution. She suggested that the game could be paused at 10 p.m. if it was not over by then, and resumed after the fireworks. Or it could start in the afternoon — although Chorvas had explained earlier why this would not work.
If an acceptable solution is not worked out, Thornton suggested that no game be scheduled for July 4, so the fireworks could be guaranteed to start on time without the game’s influence. Thornton also pointed out that the sponsors of the fireworks were not happy with the late start, and one member of the Lions Club — the major sponsor this year — said this [the late start] is unacceptable and he would bring the matter up at a meeting.
While a fireworks displays following many Saugerties baseball games are attended primarily by fans, people from all over Saugerties and surrounding communities come for July 4, Thornton said. Many are not even aware that the fireworks are keyed to games, she said.
One solution Thornton suggested would be to not schedule games for July 4, divorcing the fireworks from the games. However, both Chorvas and Costello noted that this is the game that generally draws the largest crowds.