The discovery of gunpowder and the invention of the first fireworks (bamboo cases or rolled paper tubes filled with explosives) are historically traced to the Chinese over 1,000 years ago – although there is some evidence that they may have first appeared in India. At that time it is thought that the loud noise (of firecrackers) would scare away evil spirits.

Portland Maine July 4th 2010Fireworks made their way to Europe sometime in the 13th century, probably carried back from the East by Crusaders. Their popularity grew, and by the 15thcentury they were widely used for religious festivals and public entertainment. The Italians were the first Europeans to manufacture fireworks and were the undisputed European leaders of  fireworks-making through the end of the 17th century.

The first recorded display of fireworks in England was in 1487 to celebrate the wedding of Henry VII in 1487.

By the time of the American Revolution, fireworks had long played a part in celebrating important events. On July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks.  In 1789 George Washington’s inauguration was accompanied by an impressive display.

On June 24, 1826, Thomas Jefferson sent a letter to Roger C. Weightman, declining an invitation to come to Washington, D.C., to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. It was the last letter that Jefferson, who was gravely ill, ever wrote.

Local Fireworks

With the city of Portland looking for ways to reduce expenses, the annual fireworks display became a casualty.  However, due to the efforts local business leaders, financing was secured and the celebration will take place.  A partial list of fireworks locations is below:

  • Portland: 9:30 PM – Eastern Promenade
  • Kennebunk:  9:00 – Beach Avenue/Narragansett Point
  • Freeport:  9:30 – Morse Street School Ballfield
  • Scarborough:  9:15 – Old Scarborough Dump
  • Ogunquit: 9:15 Main Beach – East of Parking lot
  • Old Orchard Beach: 9:45 – On beach in front of Palace Playland
  • Saco (7/3) 9:30 – Funtown/Splashtown parking lot
  • York 9:30 – Ellis Park/Short Sands Beach

Enjoy the holiday!