Western MA celebrates Independence Day one day late - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Western MA celebrates Independence Day one day late

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Hurricane Arthur put a damper on many Fourth of July plans across the Pioneer Valley on Friday, but it was quite a turnaround one day later.

Residents did not have to look far to find a place to celebrate.

The crowds started showing up around 7 p.m. on Saturday at Riverfront Park for Star Spangled Springfield.

The city's annual Independence Day celebration was pushed back a day due to the bad weather.

While they could have put on the show Friday night as the rain left town, organizers with the Spirit of Springfield said it was the right call to hold off a day.

"I came down here at 4 p.m. on Friday, and the water was running over my feet," said Judy Matt, president of the Spirit of Springfield. "That's how heavy the rain was. You don't want to invite people to come down when they have to be in those kind of conditions. It's not about getting the fireworks out; it's about giving people the availability to come down and enjoy the fireworks."

Saturday's event was a bit condensed, as the pre-firework entertainment did not take place, but the residents who made their way to the park said as long as there were fireworks, they were not disappointed.

"It's like a family tradition," said Frances Valderrama, an 11-year-old Springfield resident. "We came here with my grandpa. We just came here just to see the fireworks up close. It doesn't matter, I just like watching the show to see the fireworks. It's only something that they do once a year when everybody is here."

Matt said this was only the second time in the Spirit of Springfield's history of hosting the event that it had to be moved from the Fourth of July due to bad weather.

In South Hadley, residents enjoyed their town's annual fireworks celebration with food and entertainment at the Michael E. Smith Middle School.

Like Springfield, South Hadley was forced to cancel the original date for the fireworks due to inclement weather.

While Independence Day is meant for Americans to reflect on the nation's history, one Ukrainian immigrant in attendance told CBS 3 that holidays like the Fourth of July make him more aware of our country's freedom.

"I am from Ukraine, which at the moment is actually at war with Russia, which makes me extremely aware of what it is that America has that most of the world doesn't," said Victor Danilchenko. "The fact that you actually have constitutional freedoms in this country is a pretty big deal."

In Westfield, residents also had a great night for festivities.

Shortly after 5 p.m., many filed in to Stanley Park where there were vendors, live music and plenty of open space to relax and enjoy the Fireworks for Freedom display.

Organizers were happy that this event, scheduled as planned for Saturday, had perfect conditions for all to enjoy.

"The fireworks, 100 percent of the money that is raised is through donations is to put the fireworks on," said Mark Boardman, chairman of the Forever Fireworks committee. "A lot of the communities have had a problem over the last couple of days with weather, but as you can see, we've got wonderful food vendors that are here and the park brings in those food vendors. So, if you want to get a hamburger, fried dough, Italian sausage, it's all here."

The citywide event has been put on by various organizations for more than 20 years.

Stanley Park has been home to the festival for nearly eight years.

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