Portland’s Fourth of July celebration is getting a reboot.

After a one-year absence, the Portland Symphony Orchestra will return to the Eastern Promenade for Maine’s largest Independence Day celebration, organizers announced Wednesday. Other changes to the event include an improved fireworks display and a larger reserved viewing area for VIPs and other paying members of the public.

Brian Corcoran is CEO of Shamrock Signature, the company that is organizing the event in partnership with the city of Portland and the PSO. Summer FestME will consist of two musical events: a Pops with a Purpose Gala on June 28 and the Portland Pops performance on July 4.

Corcoran hopes to make Portland Pops a long-term sustainable event for the city by combining traditional corporate sponsorships with expanded ticket sales and a fundraising gala to be held next month.

“We’re really looking at this partnership based on purpose and an opportunity here to ensure that the PSO, not just in 2019, but for many years to come, will be a vital and really the centerpiece of a July Fourth celebration here in Portland,” Corcoran said.

Shamrock’s announcement said the Pops concert will feature a “world-renowned celebrity musician,” but did not identify who will appear at this year’s event.

The PSO performed on the Eastern Prom as part of the Stars and Stripes Spectacular from 2010 to 2017. The symphony was cut from last year’s celebration after July 4th Portland, the nonprofit organizer of previous celebrations, said it could not afford the orchestra’s $30,000 fee.

Andy Downs, the city’s director of public assembly facilities, said he received a lot of feedback from people who missed having the symphony play.

“It really enhances the fireworks,” Downs said. “It’s really exciting to have this back.”

This year’s performance will be funded by the $100-a-ticket Pops with a Purpose Gala at the Ocean Gateway on June 28.

Downs said the city will spend about $40,000 for the fireworks display – a $5,000 increase over recent years.

Corcoran said 500 VIP tickets will be available for the July Fourth performance, with about a quarter of those going to corporate sponsors. VIP tickets include premium seating, parking, catering and a beverage voucher.

Members of the public can pay $25 a ticket to watch the show from a reserved area, which will accommodate between 1,500 to 2,000 people. That ticket also comes with a beverage voucher.

The city has said that the July Fourth event, which cost about $130,000 overall in 2017, draws about 50,000 people to Portland’s Munjoy Hill.

“We’re thrilled to return to the Eastern Promenade and confident the best is yet to come for Portland’s arts, culture and entertainment community,” said Carolyn Nishon, the PSO’s executive director.

The Stars and Stripes Spectacular began as a privately funded event in 2010. But after a few years, it began losing money as corporate sponsorships dried up. The Press Herald found that taxpayers had spent over $106,000 on the event since 2015.

Corcoran said opening up additional revenue streams by having a June gala and expanding reserved seating areas on July Fourth will make the event more financially sustainable.

“The added layer is going to the public to share the risk and the reward with Shamrock,” he said.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: