Fireworks dazzle crowds along Charles River as Boston Pops wrap up performance – Boston News, Weather, Sports

BOSTON (WHDH) – Fireworks dazzled crowds at the Hatch Shell Oval on the Charles River Esplanade Thursday night as this year’s Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular came to a close.

Cannons boomed during Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and the audience roared, celebrating the Fourth of July the way Boston knows best.

“It is the best Fourth of July in my opinion,” said TC Jones, who said he travels to Boston from Virginia each year.

“The Pops, they just do it right,” Jones said. “They always have great acts, great entertainment.”

Musical performances for the 2024 Fireworks Spectacular began at 8 p.m. at the Hatch Shell. Fireworks started around 10:30 p.m.

Marking 50 years since the addition of fireworks to Boston’s traditional Fourth of July concert, the 2024 show included powerhouse performances from The Mavericks, rock and roll hall of fame member Darlene Love, Tony Award winning actress Kelli O’Hara, and the Singing Sergeants from the US Air Force Band.

“I always put something gospel in my show, a gospel song that means something for everybody. And when I sing that song, everybody feels the words that I’m singing and that makes me so happy,” Love said Thursday evening.

The Pops themselves played their familiar slate of Fourth of July favorites, including their rendition of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

Pops conductor notes extensive preparation for show

While the most dedicated of Fireworks Spectacular attendees began massing nearby, crews spent much of the day Wednesday preparing the Esplanade for this year’s events.

Among preparations, officials brought ceremonial guns to be fired during the 1812 Overture.

“We transform this from a spot in the middle of a park to a TV studio every year for a couple of days,” said Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart.

“We have to bring everything in, of course, unlike doing a show from Symphony Hall, for instance,” Lockhart continued.

From crowd control to video and audio production, Lockhart said the work that goes into the show is “just absolutely staggering.”

“They all do a great job,” he said.

Attendees excited for Fireworks Spectacular

Some Fireworks Spectacular attendees arrived at the Esplanade as early as Wednesday night, hoping to secure prime spots in line and stake out optimal viewing locations from the Oval once gates opened.

Those that got onto the Oval early Thursday afternoon were treated to a sneak peak of a surprise interview from space as Lockhart spoke with Needham’s own Suni Williams and her crew aboard the International Space Station.

The interview aired during the Fireworks Spectacular.

Separately speaking about his expectations for the show, Lockhart said the Pops are “thrilled” to be back with the massive crowd.

“The number of people here in the live crowd is more than pretty much any other orchestra in the world sees in an entire year,” he said. “We see them in one night.”

“It’s a wonderful responsibility, a great honor,” he continued.

Fans shared their own praise for the Pops, explaining why they chose to spend the day on the Esplanade.

“It’s the music,” said Doc Ruthstein. “But my favorite part is the people.”

“It’s just a tradition,” said Reisa Volkert. “It’s a group of people coming together as a community one day a year to celebrate America’s birthday, our freedoms.”

Security measures in place as road closures take effect

Numerous security measures were in place at this year’s Fireworks Spectacular, including uniformed and undercover law enforcement.

Bag checks also took place throughout the day Thursday as people came into the area.

Close to the Esplanade, road closures took effect along Storrow Drive Thursday morning and later in the afternoon.

All MBTA trains, buses, and ferries were free after 9:30 p.m., and officials urged people to use public transportation to get to and from the Esplanade.

Organizers note 50th anniversary of fireworks show

Steeped in history, the free Fourth of July concert on the Esplanade dates back to 1929.

Fireworks came into play 45 years later, in 1974, when late businessman David Mugar collaborated with his longtime friend and famed Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler to revitalize what was already a Boston tradition.

The 1974 show ended with the 1812 Overture. Seeking to draw in bigger crowds, the Pops followed a suggestion from Mugar and added fireworks, church bells and cannons to their now iconic grand finale.

Mugar’s additions sparked an unprecedented level of popularity, attracting millions of people to Boston in the years to come. The same additions also ushered in a new tradition that has made the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular one of the most recognized Fourth of July events in the country.

Mugar personally funded the Fireworks Spectacular until 2000 and also owned Channel 7 for more than a decade.

Fifty years after Fourth of July fireworks first exploded over the Hatch Shell, the display has been renamed as “the Mugar Family Fireworks” to honor Mugar.

“When philanthropist David Mugar introduced fireworks and cannons to the Pops annual July Fourth concert in 1974, he created an iconic tradition that would unite millions in music and celebration over the years and would showcase Boston as the birthplace of our democracy,” Lockhart said in a statement earlier this year. “I am grateful to be able to carry forward that legacy in this year’s Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this extraordinary event.”

The 2024 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular was broadcast on 7NEWS. The show was produced by and also aired on Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg Radio. It was sponsored by Herb Chambers.

(Copyright (c) 2024 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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