Spring weather descended on Maine in a hurry.

Temperatures warmed earlier. Flowers bloomed sooner. And Mainers began swapping sweaters for short sleeves weeks ahead of schedule.

So it only makes sense that a fireworks display fit for Fourth of July would light up the skies in Gardiner a month earlier than usual.

The Hogs, Pies and Fireworks event takes place in Gardiner on Friday. By “hogs” they mean motorcycles and by “pies” they mean pizza. The fireworks are exactly that.

It seems the folks at Central Maine Pyrotechnics in nearby Hallowell needed to put on a training event for the company’s team.

 They approached Gardiner Main Street about putting on the display in the town’s Waterfront Park. “How could we pass it up?” said Chris West, executive director of the Main Street program.

Soon a motorcycle parade and pizza-tasting competition were added to the evening’s festivities. “We wanted something so we’d have people popping in for more than just the fireworks,” said West.

The motorcycle parade kicks off the night at 6 p.m. at Mike’s Water Street Grill. Anyone with a bike is welcome to join in the wild rumbling of engines.

 Bystanders on Water Street will hear the parade before they see it, as the parade of motorcycles continues down Water Street through Gardiner’s historic downtown, led by an escort from the Gardiner Police Department.

Ten area restaurants will participate in the pizza contest and pie lovers can get a sample at each location for just $1.50 a slice.
The pizza power is in the hands of attendees who can fill out the “Best Pizza in Town” ballot to choose their favorite.

Just before the evening’s focal point – the fireworks display in Waterfront Park – trophies and bragging rights will be awarded to the local eateries for the most slices sold and the people’s choice.

With bellies full of pizza, pedestrians can walk over to Waterfront Park for the fireworks display. The motorcycle parade will also conclude here.

The fireworks display is slated to begin at dusk, approximately 8:30 p.m. Central Maine Pyrotechnics is expecting to light 5,000 shells, keeping the Gardiner skies well-lit for 20 minutes.

It may still be May, but Hogs, Pies and Fireworks is sure to give attendees that height-of-summer feel.

 And proceeds from pizza sales go to support Gardiner Main Street, an organization aimed at revitalizing downtown and marketing the city.

Mother Nature has decided to bring the summer-like weather to Maine early – Maine might as well bring the summer festivities.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 882-4056 or at: [email protected]