Jonathan Bouchard, his wife, Kayla Michali, and their son headed over to the Eastern Promenade on Tuesday expecting to see the skies over Casco Bay lit up with fireworks exploding over the boats below.

The Portland family sat in their lawn chairs until about 8:15 p.m. before realizing there would be no fireworks that night. They hadn’t heard earlier, but the city had postponed the event for a day as rainy skies dragged into the late afternoon.

Though disappointed, the family didn’t pack it in. They parked their car on Baxter Boulevard and on Wednesday rode their bicycles to the Eastern Promenade. Most of the major roads leading to the Eastern Prom had been shut down by 6:30 p.m. so the bikes were a great alternative, Michali said.

Fireworks on the Eastern Promenade on Wednesday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

They were rewarded with a prime viewing spot atop the hill that slopes down to the East End boat launch and beach.

“We try to come every year,” Bouchard said, driving from their home in Augusta until they moved to Portland two years ago. “I love the atmosphere, the people and you can’t beat the water views.”

The three were eating gelato purchased from Gelato Fiasco, one of several food trucks camped out on the Eastern Prom. But Theo expressed less interest in the ice cream than in the whereabouts of his glow sticks, which he planned to use once darkness fell.


Though no official estimates were available from the Portland Police Department, at about 7:30 p.m. there appeared to be at least 2,000 to 3,000 people spread out across the Eastern Prom on lawn chairs and blankets, and some in tents. Hundreds more were streaming into the area from streets on Munjoy Hill and parking was at a premium in nearby neighborhoods.

Several fireworks watchers approached from the Eastern Promenade Trail, a paved path that begins near the Ocean Gateway and the city’s waterfront, winds around the foot of the Prom, and connects with the East End boat launch.

Mario Bohorquez and his wife, Sandra Reyes, of Annapolis, Maryland, were walking on the trail for exercise, but when they learned the fireworks would start around 9:15 p.m., they quickly agreed it would be worth watching.

The couple arrived from Halifax, Nova Scotia, about a week ago on their 45-foot sailboat and said they love Portland. They plan to stay in the city for about another week before sailing south.

Fireworks on the Eastern Promenade on Wednesday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Several food trucks were doing a brisk business Wednesday night, including Gelato Fiasco, Cargo Brick Oven Pizza, Cheese the Day, Mr. Tuna, and Crispy Gai.

For the third year in a row, the event did not include the Portland Symphony Orchestra or other musical performances. The PSO held its last July 4th performance in 2019 and had played every Independence Day since 2010, except in 2018, when the music portion was canceled for lack of funding. The celebrations had attracted more than 50,000 people a year before the pandemic struck in 2020.


Shamrock Sports and Entertainment stepped up in 2019 and the orchestra returned. Shamrock CEO and founder Brian Corcoran said his organization could not organize a big July 4th celebration this year.

Andy Downs, Portland’s director of public assembly facilities, said no private partner came forward this year to organize and fund the extra entertainment, and staffing shortages meant the city did not go looking for a sponsor.

But the fireworks went on, if not exactly as scheduled, another casualty of the rainy weather.

This year’s display was staged by Central Maine Pyrotechnics. People also could watch from Payson Park, the Martin’s Point Bridge, Bug Light Park in South Portland, and Fort Allen Park.

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