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GROTON — The Groton-Dunstable Youth Basketball League has stepped in and saved the Fourth of July from being just another warm summer evening.

Well, maybe not the actual Fourth of July itself: July 7 is close enough, however.

According to Parks Commission Chairman Donald Black, whose group sponsors the fireworks every year, the July 7 date was chosen because it falls on the Monday following the eponymous date, to make sure as many residents are back in town from holiday vacationing as possible. And judging from past attendance, it appears to be the right call.

“I think there’s about 8,000 people that usually show up for the display,” said Black. “That’s enough public support for me!” And that is out of a total town population of 10,455.

With that kind of public support, one would think that having the resources to put on an annual fireworks display for the Fourth of July would be no problem. Guess again.

“Based on what the town’s budget is going to look like in ensuing years, it doesn’t look as though there will be any money available in the future for fireworks,” said Black. “As a result, I think we might start a volunteer committee that will try and generate funding for fireworks in the future.”

According to Black, currently there is no money budgeted in fiscal year 2009 for fireworks. Black declined to say how much this year’s fireworks display will cost.

To the rescue, however, came the Youth Basketball League.

“The Groton-Dunstable Youth Basketball League purchased some new backboards and hoops for the town basketball court, which had previously been vandalized.” Black explained. “Once they paid for that, it freed up some money in the Parks budget that we were able to apply to the fireworks display.”

Saved at the buzzer!

“Police Chief Donald Palma, fire Chief Joseph Bosselait, other town departments, as well as Jane Bouvier, helped organize the Fourth of July event and it will be a far better program than we anticipated because of their efforts,” Black said. “Their support ran the full gamut.”

Scheduled for the night of July 7, the fireworks display will be held at the town field. Festivities will begin around 6 p.m. with live music from the bandstand and food available from a number of local vendors.

The display itself is expected to begin shortly after dusk and will last for about 25 minutes. Those who recall displays of past years, will know that Atlas PyroVision Productions, Inc. of New Hampshire have been known to launch as many as 2,700 rockets in its effort to provide viewers with the most impressive of pyrotechnic displays.

“Atlas always comes through with a few surprises for us,” hinted Black.

The town’s Fourth of July celebration will be the last such event of the summer with the balance of the season given over to busy youth football, soccer, and flag football schedules.

Later, as the season winds down to autumn and children start thinking about going back to school, the town’s annual Labor Day Muster is scheduled to be the town’s next major event.

Hoping to fend off a shortfall of cash next year, Black said the Parks Commission will plan to form a committee charged with finding ways to raise money or establish a fund to make sure that Groton will always have fireworks on the Fourth of July. Those interested in being a member of the committee are urged to keep an eye out for public notices to be placed in local newspapers.

For the time being, however, Black himself knows when to stop planning and when to just kick back and enjoy.

“My favorite part,” said Black of the town’s Fourth of July fireworks display, “is being able to stand out by the back fence around 9 p.m. and looking out at the crowd and watching all those glow rings and flashlights and all the people congregating and enjoying themselves.”

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