Happenings on the Harbor

Missiles, fireworks, ice and Santa: Not just any old night on Rockport Harbor

Sat, 12/21/2019 - 9:00pm

ROCKPORT — Pyrotechnics experts Donnie Heald and his crew, Nick Wade and Sam Berry, started well in advance Saturday afternoon, Dec. 21, setting up for the annual Holiday on the Harbor fireworks extravaganza. Rockport Harbor Master Abbie Leonard and Public Works Director Mike Young motored them, their gear and all the boxes of fireworks to the two town floats moored in the center of Rockport’s inner harbor earlier in the afternoon so they could get a head start.

With the day edging toward dusk at 3:30 p.m, they organized the launching pads, arranging the different colors and displays just so. Like painters, their palette was the ink dark sky, but the mechanics of fireworks are three dimensional and with missiles that go sideways and fountains that shoot toward the heavens, there are a lot of logistics to take into account.  

They knew they had the makings for a big show, and as darkness fell, it got even bigger when Big Al, owner of Big Al’s Super Value Store in Wiscasset, appeared at the dock in his SUV, generously bringing yet a few more boxes of fireworks to round out the festivities.

Big Al has been supplying the fireworks for the annual Rockport Holiday on the Harbor for four years, and Donnie Heald has been setting them off for the town’s celebration for almost as long. Over the years, thanks to several funders who love fireworks, the show has gotten more spectacular.

Holiday on the Harbor 2019 did not disappoint, and the crowd that had gathered at Marine Park cheered as the bright explosions sent cascades of sparkles every which way, while ice floes in the water reflected the lights back to the sky.

And even though the Holiday on the Harbor celebration had been pushed from Dec. 14 to Dec. 21, the enthusiasm ran just as high. 

Luminaries lined the roads, shuttles carted visitors from the parking lot at RES to the harbor, Flatbread Pizza anchored its bus by the picnic tables and served pizza as well as other treats, Santa sat comfortably in an wingback armchair, chatting with children, bonfires kept people warm, and there was enough snow for youngsters to roll, jump and slide around in.

Promptly at 5:30 p.m., the Christmas tree, covered in lights and lobster buoys, was lit, and two seconds later, the initial rounds of the fireworks show commenced, exploding over the water with gusto.

Rockport firefighters pulled up to the dock in Engine 23, just in case anything eventful might happen, but nothing did, and everyone was captivated by the show.

Rockport’s Holiday on the Harbor is a homegrown event, celebrating the community, the music of Bay Chamber concerts, local restaurants and stores, and most of all, the harbor in all its beauty.


Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at lyndaclancy@penbaypilot.com; 207-706-6657