Four-day Boom And Burst Over The City

Posted: July 03, 1986

Philadelphia won't be able to match the size and splendor of New York's Statue of Liberty extravaganza this weekend - but the city skies still will blaze with fireworks for four days running.

Beginning tonight at Veterans Stadium after the Phillies game, a cornucopia of pyrotechnics will brighten the city's annual Freedom Festival.

The festival, which runs through Sunday, will offer other attractions, of course - everything from a Mummers parade to the Philly Pops. But for sheer spectacle, the fireworks can't be beat.

At the Vet tonight, the Phillies play the Cincinnati Reds at 7:35. And if there aren't enough fireworks in the game, stick around for the Phils' fifth annual postgame holiday party.

The Vet pyrotechnics aren't officially part of the Freedom Festival, but they contribute much to the spirit of celebration. Starting about 20 minutes after the final out, a 25-minute show set to music ranging from Springsteen to Beethoven will light up the skies. The music will be broadcast over the stadium's speaker system and simulcast on WYSP-FM (94.1). This combination of baseball and fireworks has been a popular draw for the Phillies, who have attracted some of their biggest crowds for the display.

"You should be able to see the show from just about anywhere in the city, and South Jersey should get a good view of it, too," said Ed Green of the WYSP promotions department.

"Without giving anything away, it's supposed to be a very exciting display."

An added attraction will be the Veterans Stadium debut of left-handed pitcher Bruce Ruffin, who was called up from the minor leagues last week after the Phils released Steve Carlton. Also in the spotlight, as usual, will be the Reds' player-manager, Pete Rose, the popular former Phillie. The series is Cincinnati's last visit to Philadelphia this season, and Sunday's game (1:35 p.m.) might be Rose's final appearance at the Vet as an active player.

The fireworks continue tomorrow night as part of a 90-minute concert by the Philly Pops. The Pops program, conducted by Peter Nero, will provide the musical backdrop to a dramatic, staged salute to the Statue of Liberty.

The concert will begin at 9 p.m. on at Eakins Oval near the Museum of Art. Appearing with the Pops will be the Stylistics and pop singer Phyllis Nelson. Besides fireworks, video projections and members of the cast of Bubbling Brown Sugar will enliven the show.

The stars of the program, however, will be 48-foot models, ablaze in fireworks, of the Statue of Liberty and William Penn. Garden State Fireworks, which built the pieces, said they would be the largest such figures ever created of the two.

Barbara Gall, who helps produce special events for the city, said the concert would conclude with a six-minute grand finale of fireworks. "The fireworks also will be used during the show to punctuate what is going on onstage," she said. "Being choreographed to music is going to make them doubly exciting."

On Saturday, a twilight parade and concert by more than 30 Mummers string bands and comic and fancy brigades will be followed by yet another fireworks display. The parade, which steps off from the Parkway and 17th Street at 5 p.m. and proceeds to Independence Mall, will be followed by a concert of Mummers music, starting about 6 p.m.

The fireworks show will start about 9 p.m. at the conclusion of the concert and last for 20 minutes.

Chestnut, Market, Arch and Race Streets will be closed between Fifth and Sixth Streets from 6 p.m. until the end of the fireworks.

Had enough? Of course not.

Assuming three nights of pyrotechnics haven't sated your appetite, the Freedom Festival has saved another show for Sunday: a fireworks display over the Delaware River sponsored by Philadelphia and Camden in an unprecedented partnership.

The fireworks are scheduled to begin at the conclusion of 1776, a musical about the American Revolution to be performed at the Great Plaza at Penn's Landing. The display of lights will begin at 9:10 p.m. and last until 9:30.

The fireworks will be launched from a barge on the river.

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