Tornado Debris and Related Flooding Forces Cancellation of July 3 Evening Fireworks at Old Sturbridge Village

OSV daytime events continue as planned;
Ticket refunds available; Fireworks tickets can apply to other OSV visits

(Sturbridge, Mass.) June 28, 2011 – Recent flooding of the fireworks launch site at Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) has forced cancellation of the living history museum’s fireworks show set for Sunday evening, July 3, 2011. Flooding of the launch site in OSV’s farm fields is due to heavy rains and debris from recent tornadoes that is clogging the adjacent Quinebaug River, blocking normal river drainage. Alternate fireworks launch sites at the Village were studied, but cannot be used due to the potential fire hazard from hundreds of downed trees remaining from the tornadoes.

Ticket refunds for advance fireworks tickets are available, and refunds for tickets purchased online will be issued automatically. Fireworks ticket holders can also apply their tickets toward the purchase of any other Old Sturbridge Village admission or membership. Plans are underway to reschedule the fireworks event. For details and questions: 508-347-3362; www.osv.org.

OSV President and CEO Jim Donahue made the decision to cancel the fireworks after a final inspection showed increased flooding at the launch site in the last 24 hours. The decision to cancel the event was also based on consultations with state and local fire officials, fireworks engineers, and experts from the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the water flow of the Quinebaug River.

“We are very sorry to disappoint the thousands of visitors who look forward to this event each year. We have exhausted all options for safe alternate fireworks launch sites at the Village, and we must put safety concerns first,” Donahue said.

One of the powerful tornadoes that hit the Sturbridge area on June 1 touched down in the fields of Old Sturbridge Village, destroying an OSV outbuilding and creating a debris path one-half-mile wide throughout the area where Old Sturbridge Village had planned to launch the July 3 fireworks. According to the National Weather Service, the tornado that caused damage in the area was an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with a 39-mile path and wind speeds of 160 miles per hour.

All daytime activities at Old Sturbridge Village will continue as planned on July 3, and a full slate of Independence Day celebrations are set for Monday, July 4, including a Citizens’ Parade and reading of the Declaration of Independence. Although the tornado touched down in some of OSV's outlying fields, no museum exhibit buildings were damaged. The museum is fully operational and is open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

“Even with the forced cancellation of our popular fireworks event, we are deeply grateful that no one at the Village was injured during the tornadoes, and our thoughts remain with others still coping with greater losses in the aftermath of these storms,” Donahue said. He added that more than 300 people attended a recent tornado relief fund-raising dinner hosted by Old Sturbridge Village, which raised $7,000. The money will be distributed to local tornado victims through the Central Mass South Chamber Tornado Relief Fund.

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