hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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June 27, 2013

City's fireworks a joy, but traffic detours must end

For close to 30 years, it has been an event to keep marked on your calendar.

Haverhill’s annual July 4 fireworks display is a highlight of the year, just as the Santa Parade is in November.

People flock to both events to see their friends and take in the show.

And what a fireworks show Haverhill puts on to light up the July summer sky. (See story, Page 8.)

The display starts out slow, but soon fills the sky with multi-colored explosions, leaving children and adults wide-eyed and wowed. On and on it goes, keeping viewers’ eyes glued skyward. The cheers that fill the air at the end are a testament to the success of the display.

Those who organize the annual July 4 festival in Riverside Park and the fireworks that cap off the event are to be congratulated.

Vincent Ouellette, the city’s human services director, and others who work on the event make it possible for the community to enjoy a good, old-fashioned family time. Festival-goers listen to music from a disc jockey, enjoy carnival food such as sausages and fried dough, and then take in the fireworks display.

Even those who don’t attend the festival enjoy the fireworks show. They watch from across the river in Groveland, from nearly a mile away on Salem Street and other high spots in the area, even from boats on the Merrimack River. They come from several nearby Massachusetts and New Hampshire towns.

When it is over, people head almost immediately for home. That’s when the one downfall of the event took place last year. Instead of letting drivers take their regular course away from the festival and surrounding areas, police decided to institute a new traffic system.

Officers detoured cars away from the routes they usually take, causing confusion among drivers and long delays. It took some people who live a half mile from the festival nearly an hour to get home.

People who go to the festival or park nearby expect some delays as they leave and are willing to tolerate them. But those drivers should not be subjected to what they faced last year.

After next week’s fireworks, we hope police simply keep order and direct traffic when needed — but avoid trying to fix something that ain’t broke.

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