A celebration of freedom on the eve of the Fourth
“We like to people watch,” said Paul Laliberte of Merrimack, whose family staked a place at nearly the center of the concrete Arms Park and was playing a game of Uno in the hours leading up to the nearly half-hour fireworks show. “We enjoy the full environment of (the Fourth of July) here.”
Laliberte said the family tried a different spot last year to disappointing results.
“We're hoping for a better view this year,” he said.
Next to a rail overlooking the Merrimack River, Kathy Enos of Londonderry sat with her family in a back corner of the park, behind even the row of portable bathrooms. She said they've come to the same spot the last 14 years.
“There's nothing better than sitting here at the river and watching the fireworks,” she said. “Manchester has the best fireworks. Boston has nothing on them.”
Ryan Thompson, who is engaged to Enos's daughter, Kate, said he prefers to be farther back.
“We don't want to wrench our necks too much,” he said.
The annual event had a carnival atmosphere, with the familiar stands selling pizza, cotton candy, ice cream and at least three stands where one could buy fried dough. One man strolled around dressed as the character Captain Jack Sparrow from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.
At Holly's Dough stand, which had a prime spot near the main entrance to the park and the bandstand, Sunni Tainter was frantically trying to keep up with the crowd, which was 20 people deep at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
“We are really busy,” she said.
At the front row, nearest the Bridge Street Bridge, from where the fireworks would shoot into the air, Deborah Fortin and her four children watched her husband, John, as he performed as part of the New Hampshire National Guard 39th Army Band.
Her 3-year-old son, Cameron, said he was scared during last year's show. He gave a serious nod when asked he thought he would be scared again.
“We're going to stay right here,” she said as the family waited for the fireworks. “It's just easiest with all the kids.”
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Tim Buckland may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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