Fireworks: Always a big hit

Baseball experts hit rockets. Fireworks experts light rockets. The two groups will work together dur

Baseball experts hit rockets. Fireworks experts light rockets.

The two groups will work together during the Fourth of July weekend — bombs and blasts will be daylight and twilight attractions at both Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy and Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam, as fireworks shows will be held after ballgames played by the Tri-City ValleyCats and Amsterdam Mohawks.

Fiery explosions and expositions will also be held over plazas, parks and lakes during the four-night Independence Day weekend. The local schedule begins Friday with four shows, including the annual giant show over Scotia’s Collins Park sponsored by Jumpin’ Jack’s drive-in restaurant.

Other bright nights will take place in Clifton Park, Saratoga Springs, Lake George and Albany, among other places in the Capital Region and North Country.

In Troy, fireworks shows will take place Monday and Tuesday at the conclusion of business days for the ValleyCats and Vermont Lake Monsters. Amsterdam’s Mohawks will roll thunder Friday after nine innings or more with the Albany Dutchmen. Another selection of high flies will launch Sunday after the Mohawks settle a score with the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs.

Jeff Alonzo, president of Mechanicville’s Alonzo Fireworks, said fireworks shows have become more common at local baseball parks, and in the big leagues, too — some major league teams spit fire after big home runs or victories by the home team. Fireworks were part of the first major league night game — when the Cincinnati Reds hosted the Philadelphia Phillies on May 24, 1935.

“We did shows for the Albany-Colonie Yankees, only a couple shows here and there,” Alonzo said. “Today, we’re doing a lot for the Tri-City ValleyCats. . . . We’ll do 15 shows.”

Fireworks Schedule

Summer skies in the Capital Region and Adirondack Mountains will be full of color and fire this weekend. Here’s where people can see holiday fireworks shows:


— Amsterdam, Shuttleworth Park, following the Amsterdam Mohawks-Albany Dutchmen baseball game

— Piseco Lake, Sandy Cove

— Queensbury, The Great Escape

— Scotia, Jumpin’ Jack’s in Freedom Park


— Averill Park (first show), Butler Park

— Corinth

— Fonda Speedway

— Greenwich, Elks Lodge

— Minerva, Donnelly Beach

— Northville, over Little Lake

— Speculator

— Waterford, Waterford Harbor Visitor Center

— West Lebanon, Lebanon Valley Speedway


— Amsterdam, following the Amsterdam Mohawks-Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs game

— Fort Plain, Wiles Park

— Glens Falls, East Field

— Hague, Town Park

— Indian Lake, Byron Park

— North Creek, Ski Bowl Park

— Northville, Sport Island Pub

— Saratoga Lake (both north and south ends)

— Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Casino and Raceway


— Albany, Empire State Plaza

— Averill Park (second show), Butler Park

— Bolton Landing, Rogers Memorial Park

— Clifton Park, Clifton Common

— Cobleskill

— Glens Falls, Crandall Park

— Inlet, over Fourth Lake

— Lake George

— Long Lake

— Lake Placid

— Mayfield, Lanzi’s on the Lake

— Old Forge, lake front

— Raquette Lake

— Salem, Firemen’s Carnival Grounds

— Saranac Lake, over Lake Flower

— Saratoga Springs, Congress Park

— Ticonderoga

— Troy, Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, following Tri-City ValleyCats-Vermont Lake Monsters baseball game


— Troy, Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, following Tri-City ValleyCats-Vermont Lake Monsters baseball game


— Lake George (every Thursday night during July and August)


— Chestertown, Summerfest

— Wilton, Gavin Park, ParkFest


— Mechanicville, Tallmadge Park


— Schenectady, Schenectady County Summer Night Finale


— Troy, Pig Out Barbecue Festival

Note: There are no fireworks in Germantown this year, and Halfmoon has pushed back its traditional July Fourth show to August.

Alonzo thinks watching a Fourth of July fireworks show — or any pyrotechnics display — at a baseball park comes with built-in advantages. Fans will get great looks at rockets that are high, that are far, that are gone — but they won’t have to stake out spots in parks or plazas hours beforehand. They’ll watch the games in their seats and keep the same view for noisy nightcaps.

“It’s one of the lowest-budgeted shows that we do anywhere, all year long, and the Empire State Plaza is the largest show that we do in the area,” Alonzo said of the Bruno shows. “People who have watched the ValleyCats shows have told me it’s better than the Empire State Plaza show, and they’re not even close. It’s got to be the stage setting, the mood. Kind of weird, isn’t it?”

Ensuring an audience

It’s not weird to Bill Terlecky, general manager of the Mohawks.

“It’s almost uncanny,” he said. “You get your schedule at the beginning of the year and you write down when your fireworks shows are. You forget about those games because you know you’re going to be packed.”

Terlecky said the Mohawks were running just two fireworks nights a season two years ago. This summer, the team will sponsor six. Other baseball teams, he added, offer more than 20 fireworks events.

Terlecky agreed with Alonzo that some people do not want to compete for prime park positions before a fireworks display.

“There are some people who don’t want to go sit on a hill and bring a blanket,” he said. “They want to have seats, sit in the grandstand. Especially folks who are a little older. You sit there and they come up right in front of you.”

ValleyCats General Manager Rick Murphy agreed on the seating angles.

“I think the way our stadium is laid out, it’s an amphitheater style, where the playing surface is 15 feet below grade,” he said. “So it sets up nicely for fireworks.”

He thinks the shows also add extra value for the fans. They’re paying six or seven dollars to see a baseball game, with fireworks as a bonus. The shows are sponsored by Price Chopper, which also picks up the tab for the Empire State Plaza show on the Fourth of July.

“When I look around at our brethren in the minor leagues, there are 176 teams,” Murphy said. “And if you look at their promotional schedules, I don’t think you’ll find one that doesn’t have fireworks as part of their entertainment value.”

Extra effort

Alonzo said baseball jobs can mean a little extra work for his technicians.

“When they do the national anthem, when they do ‘rockets red glare, bombs bursting in air,’ we do stuff for that,” he said. “And any home runs that are hit, we do a little blast for that, but only for the 15 shows we’re there for.”

The best seats might not be in the stands. Terlecky said players will keep on their cleats and stay in the dugouts after the game, watching ungodly shots no outfielder could catch.

“I’ve had married guys and their wives and kids will come down on the field with them to watch,” he said.

Categories: Life and Arts

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