Riverfest and Fireworks Canceled in Hartford, East Hartford

This year’s Riverfest celebration and fireworks display, which were scheduled for Saturday, July 9, will not take place, according to Riverfront Recapture. It's typically the organization's biggest event of the year. 

They said the announcement comes because the City of Hartford and Town of East Hartford will not be able to cover the cost of police and fire services, which they traditionally do.

"It's a difficult decision and one that is disappointing for many, but at the same time, it's also a significant expense at a time when there's not a lot of revenue out there," Riverfront Recapture President and CEO Michael Zaleski said.

Riverfest and the fireworks display on the Connecticut River costs the two municipalities around $100,000 each year.

The state police also typically provide about $20,000 worth of police at no cost to the two communities, but the bill was going to bill Riverfront Recapture this year to provide state troopers.

East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc they looked over their own budgets and could not justify the expense.

"When the state of police decided they are no longer going to be able to, and were going to pass that bill along to Riverfront Recapture, how can I justify that I'm not hiring a position or I am eliminating positions in the town of East Hartford?" she said.

Mayor Luke Bronin of Hartford had similar sentiments.

"The City of Hartford is facing a significant budget crisis and the Riverfest event costs Hartford and East Hartford hundreds of thousands of dollars for the single night," Bronin said.

State police said they would have provided 13 troopers for the event, down from the 40 that they had supplied of last year, but that still was not enough to get a deal done to have the event.

Residents of Hartford for upset by the news.

"All this work they're doing with construction to try to get people to connect to the river, to cancel it just doesn't seem to make any sense," Glenn Turk said.

The 2016 Riverfront Food Truck Festival on Mortensen Riverfront Plaza will proceed as planned on July 7, 8 and 9.

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