NEW BRITAIN – Thousands of people gathered in Stanley Quarter Park on Thursday to celebrate the nation’s Independence Day with tasty treats, games and, of course, a firework display that lit up the sky on a warm summer night.
July 4th is marked each year with the Annual Great American Boom, one of the city’s premier events. This year was the 27th in a row, and many in attendance said they are there for the festivities every year.
“We come every year,” said Audrey Bertagna, a Kensington resident who came with her husband Charley.
“Every year, same spot,” he said, sitting on a lawn chair with what he calls the premier spot to see the fireworks.
“This is the best spot,” Charley Bertagna said, holding his hands out to show his view of the fireworks above the pond. “Beautiful view. Fantastic. They do a good job.”
Johanna and Cindy Santiago, a mother and daughter who reside in New Britain, said they also visit Stanley Quarter each 4th of July.
“Every year for 10 years,” said Johanna Santiago.
“This is our corner,” she added, with a blanket and a cooler nestled under a small tree near the pond.
The fun kicked off around 5 p.m. with inflatable rides for kids, carnival games, a photo booth, face painting and many other activities for those looking for some 4th of July fun. The air smelled of corn dogs, fried dough, fried oreos, hot dogs, funnel cakes and burgers. And with the sun beaming down on a day with temperatures in the 90s, Italian ice and lemonade were two very popular refreshers.
Although there are many fireworks displays in the state, Johanna Santiago said the ones in New Britain are up there with the best.
“Oh my God, this is one of the best,” she said. “We go to the one in Newington – it’s nice – but this is top. They go all out. The whole road gets crowded with people.”
So many people turn out for the Great American Boom that, when it’s over, a quick exit must be made, Johanna Santiago added.
“When we hear the last boom, we’re out,” she said.
The Latanya Farrell Band took the stage around 6 p.m., performing tunes for the thousands in attendance. The celebration came to a close with a rockets red glare fireworks display.
Before the sun set and the first fireworks were set off, Benjamin Altiery came with his two daughters to enjoy some of the carnival rides.
“That’s why I come early,” Altiery said. “Every year, since the first year.”
Dayaliz Llorens also hit some rides before dark. She came with her friend, local rapper Dead GXNE.
“We’re gonna go on rides and eat some stuff,” Llorens said. “I’m scared of the Ferris wheel, but we’re gonna get it over with.”
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.