Fireworks are part of Peabody’s identity
Fireworks aren’t just a once-a-year thing in Peabody. They’re part of the town’s soul — and have been for nearly a century.
“It’s one of the things Peabody is pretty proud of,” fireworks committee member Jay Gfeller said. “A lot of the time when you ask people about Peabody, the first thing they say is about the fireworks.”
The show’s stellar reputation reaches beyond state lines, he said.
“We’ve been fortunate over the years to build a name for ourselves,” Gfeller said. “We draw people from out of state and even out of country on occasion.”
While the fireworks themselves are a good show, the best effect comes with the handmade displays illustrating the Battle of New Orleans, said Linda Martinez of Peabody Community Foundation.
“You can sit at home and watch the aerials, but you’re missing three-fourths of the show,” she said. “You’re missing the ground displays and all the stories that go with them.”
While the fireworks committee handles the day’s biggest event, responsibility for other events is divided between the city’s many organizations, Gfeller said.
“It allows the activities to be worked on at a higher level,” he said. “There’s not one group of people trying to do everything. The responsibility has been divided out and that makes things run smoothly.”
Working as a volunteer creates extra appreciation for the event, said Martinez, who has been involved through the community foundation for six years.
“You realize how much hard work and donated time goes into making the day fun and healthy,” said Linda Martinez, who has been involved through Peabody Community Foundation for six years.
Martinez coordinates water distribution for the 5K, volleyball, washer, and horseshoe tournaments, then she and her husband pass out candy in the parade.
Handling most matters within the community gives its citizens a sense of pride, she said.
“We all work together to make it work,” Martinez said. “Every year, they always sponsor the same thing. If something new comes in like the washer tournament, somebody else steps up.”
A company will be hired to set off the fireworks electronically, and there will be extra police for security.
Security is important since the crowd swells to several times Peabody’s population.
The past few years had around 5,000 on hand for the show, but exact numbers are unknown because people sometimes pay more than the asking price, Gfeller said.
“It’s hard to judge,” he said. “We do button sales, but we don’t produce that many buttons.”