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Holiday weekend bursts with special events, pyrotechnics

Published 5:35 pm, Monday, July 1, 2013


  • Were you SEEN at the PAL fireworks show in Westport on Tuesday, July 3, 2012? Photo: Todd Tracy / Connecticut Post
    Were you SEEN at the PAL fireworks show in Westport on Tuesday, July 3, 2012? Photo: Todd Tracy


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Years ago, when Ron Gustafson proposed kicking it up a notch when it came to the holiday fireworks display at Quassy Amusement Park, he thought it might light up the crowd for several years, but that interest eventually burned out.

Eleven years later, he sees that he was wrong.

The 105-year-old park in Middlebury expects to be packed once again for a day of family festivities topped with its special 3-D fireworks display on Thursday, July 4, above the waters of Lake Quassapaug. Glasses for the event will be sold for $1 beginning in the afternoon, but you better act fast.

"We've been selling out over the last few years," said Gustafson, who is the park's director of marketing and public relations. "By show time, they are gone."

The money raised during the sale benefits the Healthy Eyes Alliance, which works to prevent vision loss in children and adults across the tri-state area.

Gustafson said it appears the park is unique in its popular 3-D offering. When asked to explain the effect of wearing the special shades, Gustafson said it is hard to describe, but that the refractive qualities can make a single shot look like several.

It's not just the fireworks that attract the families to the park.

"They can spend a full day here," he said, noting that the picnic grove tends to fill up quickly and such attractions as the water park and rides are busy.

"Parking is a premium that day," he said. "Get here early because it can get a little tight."

In Mystic, visitors are invited to celebrate Independence Day 1876-style on Thursday, July 4. In addition to a parade at 1 p.m., there will be costumed characters milling about the visitors, who are invited to picnic, craft patriotic hats or listen to the Mystic Silver Cornet Band on Village Green.

See the Mystic Seaport TaleMakers present a live show, help churn some ice cream and play some traditional lawn games throughout the day.

If you go, check out the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship, which will be launched onto the Mystic River on Sunday, July 21.

Maybe you want to put your Independence Day celebration on the fast track. That will require a trip to Lime Rock Park, where the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix will run from Thursday, July 4, to Sunday, July 6. The fireworks actually come a week later to the race park on Sunday, July 13.

"This is the biggest race week of the year," said spokesman Rick Roso.

It's also a bit star-studded. Roso said Patrick Dempsey is expected at the race for another year. Dempsey, a film and television star and race car driver, plays Dr. Derek Shepherd on "Grey's Anatomy."

Roso said the race attracts thousands of fans to the hillside to see the action. But if you want to catch a glimpse of Dempsey, it will require a walk to the paddocks.

christina.hennessy@scni.com/Twitter: xtinahennessy

Quassy Amusement Park, 2132 Middlebury Road, Middlebury. Thursday, July 4, 11 a.m. park opening; fireworks at dusk. Free admission, with rides and features extra; $7 parking. 800-367-7275, http://www.quassy.com.

Mystic Seaport, 75 Greenmanville Ave. Mystic. Thursday, July 4, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult $24, senior (65 and older) and college students $22, youth (6-17) $15, children under 5 free. 888-973-2767, http://www.mysticseaport.org.

Lime Rock Park, 60 White Hollow Road, Lakeville. Thursday, July 4, to Sunday, July 6. Tracks open at 7 a.m. all days with races lasting throughout the day. $20 to $115 (depending on day and package); campsites cost extra. Children 12 and younger are free. http://www.limerock.com, 860-435-5000.