METHUEN — The city's Fourth of July fireworks will return this year after a one-year hiatus due to budget cuts.
Mayor William Manzi caused an uproar last year by canceling the $35,000 Independence Day tradition because the city faced a $4 million deficit. The city instead held a free concert in Nicholson Stadium at Methuen High School featuring the Beatles tribute band, Beatle Juice. It was the first time in recent memory that the city didn't light up the sky on July Fourth.
"It is something we rethought," Manzi said yesterday.
Beatle Juice is back this year, and to the delight of pyromaniacs, the fireworks are, too.
"I think it would be nice to have a good community event, not withstanding the difficulties we're experiencing now," Manzi said.
Financially, the city is in worse shape this year. Methuen faces a $6.5 million to $7 million deficit and 90 city employees have received layoff notices.
But Manzi negotiated a 50 percent price reduction with the company that will put on the pyrotechnics display, based on the city's flexibility in scheduling a date for the show, which will be Friday, July 2.
The fireworks will cost $12,000, and the city will still have to pay police, firefighters and public works employees overtime to work the event, according to Manzi.
With the lower price, Manzi said he can take the money from a revolving fund in the Recreation Department. He said that won't hurt the Recreation Department "because we've been planning on trying to see what we could do with that since last year, with the goal of trying to get that nice citywide event back on the agenda."
Chock this up as another win for Facebook users. Someone created a page on the social networking website called "Bring back Methuen MA fireworks for the 4th of July!!!!!"
One person urged other Facebook users to suggest the page to their Facebook "friends" April 2 and wrote, "maybe it will happen..... =]."
Three hundred and sixty five Facebook users said they "like" the Web page, a virtual show of support for the fireworks.
Methuen fireworks celebration is back
Where: Nicholson Stadium
When: Friday, July 2; Beatle Juice performs at 7 p.m.; synchronized fireworks start at 9:15 p.m.
Rain date: July 5
For more information: Call 978-983-8590