For Maria Benitez coming to the Great American Boom every year is a tradition.
“I used to come here for years with my mom,” said Benitez who set up towels and chairs around 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Stanley Quarter Park. “My mom passed away, but I am keeping the tradition alive.”
She brought along her daughter Allysia whose birthday was Tuesday and her brother and his wife.
“I was raised in New Britain and moved to Hartford, but moving will not stop the tradition,” Benitez said.
Vendor John Zippadelli of the Turkey Hut, said this is the second year he has worked at the event.
“It’s probably the best event in the entire state,” said Zippadelli. “We started serving at 4 p.m. It is wild from 7-9 p.m.”
The Great American Boom has an entire fleet of attractions including giant trampolines, carnival games, a photo booth, interactive inflatables, video games, micro derby car races, caricature artist, face painters, pony rides, along with many other attractions.
The largest array of food vendors in the history of the Great American Boom included hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, pizza, steak and cheese grinders, thai food, fried dough, funnel cakes, fried desserts, Italian ice, ice cream, slushies and more.
Taco Tequila sold 3 tacos for $7, Turkey Hut sold BBQ Jerk chicken, hot fudge sundaes, corned dogs, fried oreos and fried twinkies were also available.
Long lines could be found for face painting and other interactive events scattered throughout the event.
There was also a concert at 6 p.m. that featured the Latanya Farrell Band.
Around 9:20 p.m. Mayor Erin Stewart took the stage and introduced several people who were part of the committee who helped New Britain become an All-America City. Among them was Mallory Dupree of the Board of Education who played a major role in helping the City gain the recent designation by the National Civic League.
Soon it was time for the main event as fireworks began at 9:30 p.m. and lasted 28 minutes. Several drones also took flight flying in and out of the fireworks.
After the fireworks were complete the crowd, estimated around 30,000 began emptying out of the park and still aglow about the show.
“The fireworks were excellent,” said Linda Dowling.
“I liked it. One of the better ones,” said Rodney King. “I’ve been going to the fireworks since I was a little kid when they were and Willow Brook Park before there was a Great American Boom. This year I brought my step daughter and her son. It was his first time. He loved it. Just for the fireworks though. Just another reason I stay in New Britain. I really like these events that bring everybody together for a good time.”
“I love seeing the NB fireworks,” said Ann Speyer on Facebook. “I looked around at the crowd, lit by the glowing, falling embers and was proud of my community.”
Many people watched the show from afar.
“It was great,” said Sharleen Wells. “I was at Klingberg up on the hill and could see fireworks from other towns also with no crowds and no traffic.”
The many cars leaving closed several local streets as the City encouraged people to park at the Central Connecticut State University parking garages.
“Traffic problems after the fireworks were the worse ever. What a horrible mess,” said Eleanor Riggott. “The show probably was the very best ever.”
This was the 25th Annual Great American Boom held for the City’s 4th of July celebration.