Hartford Preps for July 4 Crowds

Wilder — With Lebanon having postponed its traditional July 4 fireworks until the end of August, Hartford officials are concerned that their annual Independence Day display could draw large crowds from across the Connecticut River to watch their show near the Wilder Dam.

As a result, they are encouraging spectators to consider carpooling or to watch the fireworks from across the river.

The police departments and the parks and recreation departments from each town have been coordinating to make the day run as smoothly as possible, according to Alex DeFelice, co-chairman of the Hartford Selectboard.

“We’ve always had a great relationship when it comes to cooperating on these kinds of things,” DeFelice said.

Hartford’s July 4 celebration will be held in its usual location of Kilowatt Park in Wilder. Hartford’s budget for its fireworks is $10,000 — twice Lebanon’s fireworks budget — plus an additional $3,000 donated by a car dealership, so the bigger show may also draw an audience.

“Attendance is usually between 3,000 and 5,000, although that is expected to rise this year,” said Tad Nunez, director of the Hartford Parks and Recreation department.

Although the nearby parking lots and surrounding side streets in Wilder have provided enough parking in past years, there is some worry that the area won’t be able to accommodate the extra cars from Lebanon.

“There’s parking lots by Kilowatt Field and there’s parking down by the Wilder Dam,” DeFelice said. “Usually people park along both sides of the back streets, too. But people might have to park a little farther down the streets and walk a little farther.”

“We’re definitely encouraging people to carpool,” Nunez said.

DeFelice suggested Lebanon residents might also choose to watch the fireworks show from their side of the Connecticut River near Route 10, though there is limited parking at the Wilder Dam and Boston Lot.

“It will be a learning curve for all of us,” DeFelice said. “We want to welcome anyone from the New Hampshire side that wants to come over. We think we will be able to plan ahead enough to not have any problems. But you never know — we could get 200 people or we could get 4,000.”

Lauren Bender can be reached at lbender@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.