By sunset last night, the most precious commodity on Compo Beach was a vacant plot of sand. And Saul Haffner was just discovering that the beach itself wasn't necessarily the place to be.
This year Haffner didn't stake a claim among the throngs of people expanding from one end of the beach to the other. For the first time since he moved to Westport in 1976, Saul was celebrating the event from a friend's nearby home.
"The difference between down on the beach and up here? Here you are really in it, you see everything that is happening and you feel like a part of it," said Haffner. He was on the street bordering the beach and enjoying the Connecticut Alumni Drum and Bugle Corp. as they marched down the road performing.
Meanwhile, on the beach families were bunkering in and waiting for the show to start. Many brought food, from simple coolers or a small grill to, in some cases, large buffet spreads. Anders and Marie Soderstrom had a small table to themselves with light fare and a few glasses of wine. "I think it's a really fun event. Usually we have friends join us, but they stood us up this year," said Anders.
Brett Kreter grew up in Westport. He always tries to make it to the fireworks, saying it brings back fond memories. This year ranked an 8 out of 10 in his book. "It's a great atmosphere, crowded but not dangerously crowded," said Kreter. He said he's keeping the future open and waiting for that 10 to come along.
Starting at 9:15 p.m. the sky erupted with light and sound as the fireworks launched from a barge out in the water. After 30 minutes it was time to pack up the gear and fight the traffic.
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