Fourth of July fireworks show returns to Orient

06/23/2016 6:00 AM |

fireworks

After more than 20 years, the Orient sky will once again light up with fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July.

A fireworks show is scheduled for Saturday, July 2, at nightfall at the Orient Yacht Club, weather permitting.

Yacht club member Rich Gillooly said the show will take place 1,000 feet off the club’s pier. Spectators can line up along the pier to watch the display.

“Everyone from East Marion to Orient should have a good view,” he said.

A rain date has been scheduled for Sunday, July 3.

The return of fireworks to Orient was spearheaded by Theodore Strauel, who’s had a home there for three years and been a member of Orient Yacht Club for two. He suggested a fireworks display over the harbor to fellow club and community members.

After talking to a few people, Mr. Strauel said, he learned that the Orient Fire Department used to put together an annual fireworks show, but it eventually “petered out.”

The main reason the annual event stopped was a lack of funding.

Bob Reeves, a 59-year fire department volunteer, said that with everything else the department needed to raise money for, it became difficult to generate enough for the fireworks.

“Since we’re all volunteers, we rely completely on donations,” Mr. Reeves said. “We weren’t bringing enough money in to offset the cost of doing the show.”

A longtime fan of watching fireworks, Mr. Strauel said he wanted to bring the display back.

Mr. Strauel, whose principal residence is in Westchester County, said he would always visit Sag Harbor to watch its fireworks show and would sometimes keep his boat at Brewer Stirling Harbor Marina in Greenport.

After he bought a house in Orient, Mr. Strauel said, he thought it would be perfect to have a fireworks show closer to home.

But a fireworks show comes with a hefty price tag. So he set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money while also accepting cash contributions.

With less than two weeks to go, the page has generated nearly $9,000, bringing the total, including the cash donations, to more than $20,000 Mr. Strauel said.

The yacht club’s fundraising goal is $40,000 — $35,000 for the fireworks and an additional $5,000 for a local charity, which has not yet been selected.

The show has already been paid for, Mr. Strauel said. Permits, insurance and final payment for the fireworks themselves have been covered out-of-pocket, he said, and the funds raised will go toward reimbursement.

“I think we’re going to reach [the goal],” he said.

File photo credit: Katharine Schroeder

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