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Liberty Mutual ends funding for Fourth of July celebration

Fireworks lit up the city during last year’s Independence Day celebration.MATTHEW J. LEE/GLOBE STAFF

After a decade of sponsoring the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular, Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. is ending its financial support, leaving the Independence Day extravaganza without funding for 2016.

But the melody of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” will still cut through the thick summer air on July 4, 2016, according to the event’s longtime coordinator, David G. Mugar. He said he is not worried; he’ll “figure it out.”

Mugar, executive producer of the event, said on Sunday that he remains optimistic about the future of the Independence Day show and likened the new fund-raising challenge to a baseball game.

“We’re in the first of nine innings,” Mugar said. “We’ve got new players on the bench, and we have to get them ready for the 2016 season.”


Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular is an annual July Fourth celebration that has been held near the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade since 1974. The Boston Pops orchestra performs in the Hatch Shell before and during a fireworks show over the river.

Since 2005, Liberty Mutual has provided the show’s annual budget, which was $2.5 million last year. Its sponsorship contract expires after the 2015 season. In a statement released last week, the company’s chief executive officer, David H. Long, said Liberty Mutual decided to take its philanthropy in a different direction next year.

“The timing is right to refocus and redeploy our funds into the community to support social services agencies that are at the center of our philanthropy,” Long said in the statement.

A spokesman for the company declined to offer more details about the decision.

Mugar said he was not surprised by the insurance company’s decision and has been exploring other sponsorship options for the past few months.

“They’re refocusing their funds and they are entitled to do so,” Mugar said. “But we are not concerned. We will figure this out.”


Mugar said he hired Fenway Sports Management to help find alternate donors.

Mugar, who has been orchestrating the fireworks show since its inception, called the event one of the greatest Boston evenings of the year. The fireworks draw about 500,000 people to the Esplanade annually.

“The public demands it, they love it,” he said. “We all look forward to this.”

After a dip in ratings in 2013, CBS television network declined to renew a contract with the show’s producers and last year the spectacle was televised only locally, rather than nationally, for the first time in 20 years. Mugar said he did not believe the lack of national exposure prompted Liberty Mutual’s decision to end its support.

To ensure the Boston Pops Hatch Shell performance will still set the mood for the fireworks display, the group will need a new sponsor.

“We would be very fortunate to find an actual replacement,” Mugar said. “But we’re open to a number of different options.”

Jacqueline Tempera can be reached at jacqueline.tempera@globe.com. Follow her on twitter @jacktemp.