Bridge Fireworks Display Still Uncertain

Whether visitors to the Cape Cod Canal Centennial Celebration on July 29 will be treated to a cascading pyrotechnic display off the railroad bridge in Buzzards Bay remains unknown.

That was the message delivered to the celebration steering committee by town emergency management director Charles K. Noyes Tuesday morning. Mr. Noyes told the committee that the Army Corps of Engineers, which has control over the railroad bridge, remains hesitant about granting permission for the display.

“They want a guarantee that nothing bad will happen, and we can’t give them a guarantee,” he said.

He said the Army Corps’ concern is that the historic metal structure could somehow be damaged, and the Corps is responsible for protecting the bridge.

“That’s what they’re going to do, and until somebody can tell them that absolutely, positively nothing will happen to it, which nobody can, they’re hesitant,” he said.

Park Ranger Samantha A. Gray echoed Mr. Noyes’s statement that one of the things the Army Corps has been tasked with is safeguarding the bridge.

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“We take that very seriously,” she said.

The pyrotechnic display off the bridge has been described as a “cascading waterfall.” The plan would be to raise the railroad bridge and have the display flow off it into the water.

The materials that would be used are indoor pyrotechnics, similar to what is set off in athletic venues such as Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium.

The steering committee has been pushing for the cascading waterfall because it would give the celebration a signature moment and set it apart.

Mr. Noyes also said that he does not consider getting approval for the display an insurmountable task. He said that he expects to have a final answer from the Army Corps by next month’s meeting of the steering committee, scheduled for Tuesday, May 6.

“We’ll definitely know if we’re going forward with that, and then I’ll probably have a request for money,” he said.

Mr. Noyes said that he and other members of the steering committee’s logistics subcommittee are working on a plan to submit to the Coast Guard for how they will handle crowd control and security for the canal centennial celebration. He said that because the Coast Guard issues permits for waterway use, it has to approve the plan, which includes the fireworks, a tugboat parade, and a parade of lights on the night of July 26. Mr. Noyes said that, during a recent meeting, Coast Guard officials told him they would need the finalized plan by the end of this month.

“We have a drop dead date of April 26, of when we have to have our plan in to the Coast Guard,” he said.

He added that the size of the crowd expected to attend the celebration is dependent on whether the Army Corps allows the pyrotechnic display off the bridge.

“If we don’t have pyrotechnics display from the railroad bridge, the crowds will be considerably smaller,” he said.

He noted that he has a plan in place dependent on what the Army Corps decides about the bridge display, but until then he cannot submit anything to the Coast Guard.

“We can’t do that until the end of the month,” he said.

Even if there is no bridge display, people attending the centennial celebration will be entertained by fireworks. A fireworks display will be set off from a barge in Buzzards Bay, and that show will be similar in size and scope to Boston’s Fourth of July show.

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