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For big fun at Fourth fireworks, think small

Pepperell put on a show in the sky last year and is one of the towns preparing another annual fireworks show for July Fourth.
Pepperell put on a show in the sky last year and is one of the towns preparing another annual fireworks show for July Fourth.Suzanne Lee

Small-town July Fourth celebrations are considerably different from their big-city cousins. They often take place July 3, a tradition that started because there weren’t enough pyrotechnics experts available to serve every town on the Fourth, according to Paul Bergeron, chairman of Sharon’s Independence Day Celebration Committee. The celebrations are smaller, usually end earlier, and often cap a long day of traditional festivities like parades or fairs. Instead of on an esplanade, fireworks take place at a school or beach, and instead of the Boston Pops, there’s a band of locals.

Bergeron, who has served on Sharon's committee since 1984, said the town, which hosts fireworks at Lake Massapoag, relies entirely on community donations to put on the event, but people are always ready to contribute. "There's a special closeness in a small town," he said.

Stephanie Trovato, chair of the Stoughton Community Events Committee, echoed that. Stoughton's fireworks take place at the middle school, but are best viewed from the high school field. "The kids are running around, parents are chatting, and everyone is just relaxing and enjoying the summer night," she said. Trovato, who is organizing the fireworks for the third time, said the celebration has grown each year she's been involved.

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There's something enchanting about enjoying Independence Day the same way people have for decades, even if past generations weren't able to Snapchat their celebration selfies. It's hard to beat spreading out a blanket and taking in some Americana. Unhealthy food is almost as necessary as bug spray.

The 2010 Marblehead Fireworks; since it was very low tide, many of the rocks in the harbor were exposed and people walked out on the sand to claim seats.
The 2010 Marblehead Fireworks; since it was very low tide, many of the rocks in the harbor were exposed and people walked out on the sand to claim seats.Jeff Folger of Vistaphotography/Vistaphotography

Suburbs preparing to launch fireworks shows

Dates are subject to change because of weather.

JULY 3

Freetown (www.freetownma.gov)

Walpole (www.walpole-ma.gov)

Haverhill (www.ci.haverhill.ma.us)

Sharon (www.townofsharon.net)

Stoughton (www.stoughton.org)

Needham (www.needhamma.gov)

Milford (www.milford.ma.us)

JULY 4

Waltham (www.city.waltham.ma.us)

Canton (www.town.canton.ma.us)

Hyannis (www.hyannis.com)

Marblehead (www.marblehead.org)

Pepperell (www.pepperell-mass.com)

Middleborough ( www.middleborough.com )


Jon Mael can be reached at jmael2014@gmail.com.