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New Hope officials blind-sided by Lambertville-New Hope Chamber plan to restart fireworks displays

fireworksFireworks — some people love them, some hate them. But if you’re planning to host a major display, it’s probably a good idea to have a chat with your local fire department rather than risk an explosive situation.

This concept was apparently lost on the Greater Lambertville-New Hope Chamber of Commerce leadership, as officials across New Hope were stunned Tuesday by the group’s announcement a day earlier that it would host three fireworks shows this summer in both towns. A fourth show is planned for New Year’s Eve.

“The skies over the Delaware River will be filled with fireworks for three nights this summer, beginning with the Independence Day weekend,” reads the Greater Lambertville-New Hope Chamber of Commerce (GLNHCC) press release.

And here lies the rub: New Hope Eagle Fire Company has made no secret in public pronouncements over the years that they can’t guarantee the safety of the public under conditions that seriously hamper their access and mobility. They barely tolerated previous years’ displays.

But the fireworks plan announced by GLNHCC ties the shows to national holidays, and the initial launch is during Fourth of July weekend. That timing, along with a hiatus in fireworks events after the New Hope Chamber canceled them in 2014, means the Friday, July 3 event could draw a massive crowd to New Hope’s narrow colonial streets that fire and emergency vehicles could find impossible to navigate.

Making matters worse, the July 3 event is being lengthened into a full 15-minute show, according to GLNHCC Executive Director David Morgan, costing a total of $10,000 to produce.

And it’s not only New Hope’s firefighters that were caught off-guard. Those reached at New Hope Borough Hall and the New Hope Police Department had never heard of the plan to revive fireworks on a limited basis this summer, although GLNHCC said yesterday that “the program has received the support of local officials in both New Hope and Lambertville” and “the Chamber is currently working with both the City of Lambertville and the Borough of New Hope to finalize the logistics.


“We talked to the [New Hope] mayor about it,” explained Morgan. “He supports the idea, [Lambertville] Mayor DelVecchio supports the idea, and we’re working to finalize the rest.”

Continued Morgan, “It’s what our members have been asking for, and we worked diligently to come up with a scaled back plan that would work for everyone.”

“Not going to happen,” said one source familiar with New Hope fire department concerns. “It won’t fly,” said another borough official.

According to the GLNHCC plan, fireworks will be launched from a barge (supplied by the fireworks company) near the New Jersey shoreline south of the New Hope-Lambertville free bridge, Morgan said. The location received clearance from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which declared that the limited number of fireworks shows would not endanger a nesting family of bald eagles located near the Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead, he added.

In addition to the July 3 event, fireworks shows have been scheduled for 9:30 p.m. on Aug. 14 and September 6, along with a special early show on New Year’s Eve.

“Bringing back fireworks has been one of our top priorities, but we wanted to do it in a responsible way that would make them truly special and minimize inconvenience to residents and businesses alike,” said Morgan.

Morgan confirmed that “seed” funding for the fireworks program is being provided by Rago Arts, Riverhouse at Odette’s, Inn at Lambertville Station, Logan Inn, and the Raven, and that a top priority for GLNHCC will be raising additional cash for future fireworks shows.

About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • Michael, the John Danaher snide snarky comments you’re referring to are on the New Hope Free Press Facebook page, not on the NHCOC Facebook page. He seems like a real nice consensus-building non-divisive dude.

  • Wow I just read Danaher’s comments on Facebook. And I’m reading here that this person is some kind of leader at the NH Chamber of Commerce? What a monumental d-bag! If I was a NH business person I would be very concerned that a person like this represented me.

  • You walked right into that one John Danaher. I don’t know how long you’ve been with the NH CoC but if any more than a year or so you’re lucky not to have been convicted of a felony. Are you part of the corrupt Chamber that pilfered its own(I.e., “OUR”) treasury for your own personal gain? Bunch of dirt balls. If that’s too harsh, at the very least they’re a bunch of incompetents. Take a lesson any way you can from a Chamber that knows what it’s doing. I’m talking of course about the Lambertville CoC. That town has been eating our lunch for years. While LVille businesses.thrive, what do we have? An ever-increasing number of empty store fronts, heads shops, not 1 but TWO vape shops, discount cigarette store

  • John,

    My comment may be “entertaining”, but accurate. What else did you mean when you responded to his long, good-spirited comment with only “How long have you lived here?”, and the follow up comment “Answer it.”…if that doesn’t imply that he hasn’t lived here long enough to matter to you as an “authentic townie”, then I’d love to hear it…

    Similarly, a woman on there simply said one sentence – “Can’t we all just get along!” – I can’t imagine anything more innocuous and kind, and yet your response to even THAT is “Get involved then give a voice”… way to shut that one down, John.

    As to why no last name – It’s because I understand the way the internet works in 2015. Say one wrong thing and it can affect your whole career. It’s a conscious decision so that I may take part in discussions without these discussions being the first thing clients, potential clients, business partners, higher-ups in my company, or potential future employers see when Googling. For anyone that enjoys their income and careers, and hasn’t yet become CEO of the company quite yet, a tiny bit of anonymity on the internet goes along way.

    As to my comment about New Hope Chamber being…”well, you know…” – I thought that was enough to jog people’s memories, but here is a list of the newsworthy stories about the New Hope Chamber during the last 18 months – John, you obviously know this inside and out, but since you feigned ignorance and asked me to explain it to the readers, I will:

    – New Hope Chamber cancels the 2014 fireworks, against the wishes of Lambertville’s Chamber.

    – New Hope Chamber gets caught handing out ‘crisp’ $100 bills in amounts ranging from $600-$1000 at a holiday party, party also thrown with money from the coffers.

    – New Hope Chamber can’t come up with documentation about where all the money went and has various other shady financial woes.

    – New Hope Chamber pulls out of the entire 2014 holiday season at the last minute, leaving the town wondering if there will be a tree lighting, etc.

    – New Hope Chamber disbands.

    All anyone interested has to do is search “new hope chamber” at the bottom of this very site for more detail.

    Now, from the ashes, three groups have risen.

    The Lambertville Chamber has begun expanding it’s ranks, and moved ahead quickly – we’ll see what happens, but as of now they seem to be set to do the fireworks on their own this year. They’re dong it near the NJ shore, with clearance from the NJ DEP…we’ll see if New Hope can get their way and cancel them again, but so far Lambertville seems to be leading the way regardless.

    The New Hope Business Alliance quickly came together and put together a wonderful event for this year’s tree lighting. A huge success, and hopefully they’ll have many more.

    Now the New Hope Chamber has reformed and hopefully will move forward successfully with none of the last 18 months baggage weighing it down. With Memorial Day weekend less than two weeks away, the summer season is upon is and it’s time to get things going before another tourist season is lost. I truly do wish you luck with it, John, because you have some absolutely wonderful people involved in the new group you’ve put together. I just wish you’d drop the “you don’t matter, authentic old townies only” attitude trying to shut down anyone you disagree with on Facebook; it’s not a good look for the new New Hope Chamber.

  • I’d much prefer to see the Lambertville Chamber of Commerce businesses take their surplus money and give it to their lowest paid workers, instead of wasting it on fireworks.

  • I’m confused about what group is which and who represents the businesses and interests of the town. The first comment on this article mentions three different organizations, two of which include the words New Hope Chamber and one that is a business alliance. Regardless, it’s always good manners to discuss an event of this sort with the policed and fire safety officials. I’m only partially qualified as a townie having been here since 2010 but I do know where the Eagle Fire Company is located.

  • Mr. Bill G’s comment on my “tersely” implying anything is at best entertaining.
    Ask a question and one becomes the bad guy? OK.
    Having been the Production Manager for all 4 years of the recent fireworks, I’m here to set you straight as to protocol on staging events such as fireworks. Especially in a town 1 square mile in size. The FIRST thing you do is put your infrastructure together. This includes Fire, Police, and Emergency teams.
    The second thing you do is talk with the people who pulled it off for 4 years without incident. Again, No one was contacted.
    You don’t put out a press release until all criteria have been met.
    Again, the Lambertville chamber has put out erroneous false information. No one was contacted. period.
    Yes, The New Hope Chamber is back on track and building a strong, functional membership. Unlike Lambertville chamber, we’re not trying to sell you anything. We exist to serve our community and business’s.
    I would ask that you clarify your comment New Hope Chamber “well, you know”……..Actually I don’t know. Why don’t you explain it to me and all the rest of the readers here?
    You seem to not have a problem throwing my name around yet you hide behind a first name and no last. But hey…. history would show that those with the loudest mouth do the least in action.

  • The issue is not about whether or not to have fireworks. The article shows three scary realities: 1. A group claiming to represent New Hope businesses did not know enough about New Hope’s political structure to understand that mayor Delvecchio may call the shots on that side of the river, but our mayor does not here in New Hope, 2. They exaggerated in their notice when they said that they had gotten approval with New Hope officials, 3. this serves as another example of the unilateral tendencies of a group that thought they could take over New Hope by changing their name. News flash, New Hope doesn’t want to be run by people who don’t even know our firemen are volunteers and you’re telling them to give up their summer 4th of July weekend. Yay for fireworks, boo for the Lambertville chamber and their BS.

  • I hope that New Hope officials and the Eagle Fire Company can find a way to work and plan well for this, because it’s hard to find fault with the newly expanded Lambertville-New Hope Chamber for moving ahead to try to do something positive for the area when New Hope’s Chamber has, well, you know…

    If all that an anonymous borough official in New Hope can only muster up “It won’t fly”, well…seems right in line with a lot of the weird dysfunction and (possibly) corruption in the past couple years…

    I don’t use Facebook so I can’t reply on there, but I do see the first few comments on this article on Facebook are overwhelmingly supportive of the return of the fireworks. The only naysayer on there (as of right now) seems to be John Danaher tersely implying that one of the supporters hasn’t lived in town long enough for his opinion to matter.

    That attitude is one I’ve seen shared in New Hope Free Press Facebook comments a few times by various “old timers”, and frankly it’s ridiculous. The guy he’s questioning seemed genuinely in love with both towns and excited about them in his post, and yet he’s questioned for not being…what? “Authentically townie” enough?

    The pettiness of a “locals only” attitude, where you’re supposed to have lived somewhere for X number of years (10? 20? 30? 40?) before you’re allowed to be involved in community decisions, opinions, or politics is repulsive – and, luckily, has zero legal weight.

    Expecting to have a thriving, energetic community while at the same time discouraging new ideas, new opinions, new townspeople, or new business owners is a non-starter, unless the ultimate goal for New Hope to just keep bemoaning that it’s not 1982 anymore and watch the same couple dozen “townies” grow older until nothing is left.

    The reality is that it’s 2015, and for retail storefronts to survive and thrive it’s going to take a combination of truly UNIQUE inventory and events/experiences to attract tourists year-round. As un-romantic as it is, retail is going the way of the smartphone and that’s not going to reverse itself.

    For 99% of what people need, they can (and do) now spend 30 seconds clicking an Amazon app and can have almost anything delivered to their front door, instead of spending 20 minutes…45 minutes…2 hours+ driving around to try to find something that a store may or may not have in stock.

    So what does it take to survive, let alone thrive, as a mom-and-pop retailer in 2015? It means either offering that 1% of inventory that truly CAN’T be found anywhere else, or else offering an EXPERIENCE to make all that extra shopping time exciting – otherwise more and more people will opt to spend 30 seconds on an app, and use all the time they just saved doing something that is enjoyable.

    My aunt has owned and operated a small garden supply/plant store in NY state for the past 27 years – she always did fine just by existing, because locals had no real choice.

    With the advent of Amazon and other online retailers, her business suddenly began to lose money a few years ago – until she invested and revamped the entire front and rear lots into Japanese gardens complete with koi ponds, waterfalls, paths, and bridges, and organized with other neighbor store owners to have an ongoing series of workshops (in her shop, beginning bonsai workshops) and regular weekend music events on the street outside during nice weather – now her business is once again thriving, because she figured out how to offer an experience Amazon Prime can’t.

    Anyway, this is a long way of saying congratulations to Lambertville-New Hope CC for moving ahead before the summer is lost and Amazon has another 12 months to take over. At least there seems to be a functioning, energetic group of people there making decisions and executing them.

    The New Hope Business Alliance did extremely well on short notice with the tree lighting this past Christmas too, so there are at least two groups that are making headway. Hopefully John Danaher’s newly reformed New Hope Chamber gets something happening instead of just questioning other’s “townie cred” on Facebook.

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