2011-06-30 / Front Page

Island gets ready to celebrate country’s independence

By Tim Riel

For the 16th consecutive year, the annual fireworks display in Jamestown will light up the sky over Mackerel Cove Town Beach to celebrate the United States’ independence. The festivities are planned for Saturday, July 2, at 9 p.m.

The Rocket ’hogs have been organizing the event for the last four years, and this year some old ammunition will be back in town. Gregg Charest, who along with Bob Bailey and Kerry Sheehan make up the ‘hogs, said that the elusive 8-inch shells will be back for this year’s display. Because of an explosion at a Chinese fireworks factory, Charest said, some of the smaller distributors had shipments of the bigger explosions canceled last year due to safety concerns. This year, because they ‘hogs have a new, much-larger distributor, the 8-inch shells will be available.

“We’re exciting because we haven’t been able to get them,” Charest said. “These are the fireworks that everyone enjoys.”

Although the artillery is up to par, Charest said that the group has been struggling financially. “There is a lot more red that we would like,” he said. “We would like to add the blue and white. It’s been a cold start to the summer season and we definitely could use the help.”

Charest said that donations can be sent to P.O. Box 1776, Jamestown, RI 02835. Last week, Mc- Quade’s Marketplace matched each donation made at the market 100 percent. Other sponsors include Jamestown Wine and Spirits, the Newport County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and Conanicut Marine Services.

The trio of ‘hogs said that they will continue on with the display – which costs a minimum of $10,000 – even if they don’t raise the whole amount. “We will do a show,” Charest said. “It won’t get canceled.”

Charest said that the group accepts donations year round, and donations after the display are just as appreciated. The Jamestown Community Band will begin playing patriotic music at 8 p.m. for an hour before the first shell is fired.

The band will also be on hand for the 22nd annual Forth of July North End Parade. The band will commence at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, July 4, at the home of Jean Poirier-Green on 933 East Shore Road. The parade will begin at 10 a.m.

The tradition began following the death of Poirier-Green’s husband, David Poirier. Their two daughters, Allie and Jen, who were 4 and 2 at the time, respectively, tried to get over the sadness of the passing of their father by banging pots and pans. More than two decades later, the tradition continues, but with a much larger audience.

Poirier-Green will announce this year’s grand marshal the morning of the parade.

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