Harbour to put on New Year’s fireworks possibly for last time


~Cruise ship to stay late for show, DI contributes ~

The New Year will be celebrated, as has become customary, with a grand fireworks display over Great Bay organised by St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies. However, at the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2012, the public will enjoy possibly the last of the great shows in Philipsburg.

The Harbour Group, for close to a decade, has been organising and paying for the fireworks set off from a barge in Great Bay. This created a spectacular for the large crowd gathered on Boardwalk Boulevard.


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Harbour Group CEO Mark Mingo said on Wednesday that more must be offered to the St. Maarten public and visitors to create a night to remember throughout the year. "The fireworks are not enough. The show was developed to be the climax of an evening of entertainment and festivities."

"This may be the final year of the fireworks spectacular because in the past years other businesses surrounding Great Bay have not taken much initiative to add activities to enhance the evening with entertainment."

It is an opportunity lost to show what an outstanding entertainment hub St. Maarten is, Mingo said. "A package of entertainment and fireworks would be a boost for tourism if planned and marketed in advance to the surrounding islands and elsewhere.

"The Harbour Group has again done its part. We have informed the cruise ships that will be in port on New Year’s Eve about the fireworks at midnight. Holland America’ Prinsendam will be staying in port until after the show so her cruise passengers can start 2012 in our paradise." Prinsenda, one of four cruise ships in port on December 31, was scheduled to leave port at 11:00pm; now it will leave after midnight.

The Harbour Group, Mingo said, knows and accepts its role as a corporate citizen, but it is by no means the only government-owned or private sector company that benefit from the community. "Therefore, it should not be the only company striving to bring live to Philipsburg by attracting more cruise business or putting on a fireworks display that boosters establishments along the boardwalk, along the edges of Great Bay and Philipsburg in general."

The need for more businesses to get on board with free concerts and other events to make New Year’s Eve/New Year’s morning outstanding is highlighted in newspaper headline over the year that reflect the success of concert and fireworks combo and the low points of only fireworks alone to draw people to town, Mingo said.

Some past newspaper headlines for the "good year" were "Thousands celebrate the New Year on promenade (2006)," "Thousands witness Destra, fireworks (2007)" and "Fireworks and Kassav’ bring in New Year (2008)." Headlines for two of the not so good years were "Fireworks, small crowd on ‘boardwalk’ usher in 2010" and "New Year’s is quieter than usual (2011)."

The concerts and other activities in the past were organised by companies and businesses along the boardwalk.

The Harbour Group, like other companies and even small businesses, has felt the squeeze of the global economic crisis in the past three years. "We understand that businesses may feel that they have to watch their bottom line in tough time, but investments and creative strategies are needed to encourage economic growth."

Some US $65,000 is being shelled out by the Harbour Group of Companies for the fireworks display. The only other company that will make a monetary contribution to the show is Diamonds International (DI), the largest jewellery retailer in the Caribbean with seven locations in St. Maarten.

DI Managing Director Moshe Hakimi said his company is proud to contribute to the fireworks display. "It promises to be a grand spectacle that the whole community is invited to watch from the many vantage points in Philipsburg and right along the boardwalk." DI has a history of contributions and community involvement. "We are proud to be involved in the fireworks display which we hope will be one of the best ever."

The upcoming fireworks show will last some 23 minutes and will be carried out by Caribbean Pyrotechnics SARL from a Bobby’s Marina barge anchored some 200 metres from the Cruise Pier II. A permit has been received from the Fire Department. A security perimeter of 150 metres will be maintained around the barge by the Coast Guard and harbour security to ensure no vessels cross into the area around the fireworks barge.

Mariners in Great Bay will be given ample notice by the Harbour Group about the fireworks show to secure their vessels outside the 150 metres radius.

The fireworks display for ring in 2011 has suffered some glitches due to the rain. Some of the fireworks containers, hooked up to a computerised mechanism, got wet and did not create the explosion of colour and light they were designed for. For this reason, this upcoming show will be carried out manually.