WOONSOCKET – Mary Lynn Bosiak, publisher of The Call, announced Friday that organizers of the planned Last Night celebration had reluctantly canceled the festivities.
She said regulatory conditions imposed on the organizers at the eleventh hour were the cause of the decision.
“I really regret that we’ve had to cancel the Dec. 11 event,” said Bosiak. “The conditions imposed on us at the last minute by the city, due to the changes in the administration and timing of the transition, created some logistical obstacles that were impossible for our few volunteers to overcome in a timely fashion.”
Last Night was billed as the final chapter of the city’s 125th anniversary, marked by a huge block party earlier this year. The marquee event of Last Night was supposed to be the firing of a 7-foot-tall “Woonsocket Rocket” from the Mullen Lot on Main Street to the roof of The Call building, secured by a guy wire. Fire pits, music by the rock band Idyll Minds, and a fireworks display were also part of the event, a co-production of The Call and the autonomous nonprofit group Main Street Riverfront Initiative. Al Beauparlant, the theatrics chairman, was a key organizer.
Beauparlant and Bosiak reluctantly pulled the plug on Last Night after a meeting at City Hall Thursday with Richard Kearns, director of administration for newly-elected Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, Transition Chairman Richard Lepine, Police Lt. Brad Scully and Acting Fire Chief Timothy Walsh.
Bosiak said the officials informed Last Night personnel they lacked certain permits and that they needed to secure police and fire details, at their own expense, for the event to go on. Bosiak said the city was also requiring the closure of Main Street and indicated that certain parties, including abutters, had not been provided sufficient advance notice.
The city also wanted Last Night to obtain liability insurance, saying it should be legally clear that the event was sponsored privately, not by the city, Bosiak said.
The requirements would have added more than $2,300 to the cost of staging the event, which Last Night did not have in its budget.
“We were extremely reluctant to call on additional sponsors at the eleventh hour during this season of holiday needs,” said Bosiak. “It was an extremely difficult decision, but we could not proceed with what we had hoped would be a wonderful, family-oriented celebration.”
In a prepared statement, city officials said they were disappointed that the enhanced plans for fireworks, open fire pits, and a rocket launch, would not be a part of the seasonal festivities on Main Street.
However, they said, the city learned of the plans for the first time on the first day of Baldelli-Hunt’s new administration. In a meeting with organizers the following day, officials learned Last Night had not applied for the permits for open fire and outdoor entertainment. In addition, the organization lacked insurance to “properly protect the interests of the city and its residents,” they said.
“The city was ready, willing, and able to assist the organization in any way, but we could not sanction activities that were planned but not properly vetted with the various city agencies nor permit the use of public property without the necessary certificates of insurance,” said Kearns. “Public safety must be our primary concern, and there was simply a lack of communication with the city leading up to the event for the necessary vetting to be done for these enhancements.”
During a brief interview following an event at the Senior Center, Baldelli-Hunt told The Call she had been looking forward to pushing the launch button on the Woonsocket Rocket after hearing some advance publicity about the spectacle. She was surprised to learn that the legal and public safety prerequisites were still incomplete so near to the date the event was to be staged.
Bosiak thanked and apologized to all those who donated time, energy and money for Last Night, including E.A. Marcoux & Sons, metal fabricators; the Burrito Company; Vintage Restaurant; Blackstone Valley Tourism Council; the band Idyll Minds, and radio stations WOON and WNRI.
Bosiak said her door is always open to anyone who has questions or concerns regarding the cancellation of the event.