The Great Bonac Fireworks Show, presented by the Clamshell Foundation, will take place on July 19 over Three Mile Harbor.
This is one of several East Hampton fireworks displays that take place after the 4th of July, but don’t blame the plovers for this one—the Great Bonac Fireworks has always been in mid-July. It got its start in the early 1970s as part of George Plimpton’s Bastille Day party, and it later became the Boys & Girls Harbor fireworks, supporting Tony Duke’s famous summer camp. The Clamshell Foundation took over the event in 2009, renaming it the Great Bonac Fireworks Show in honor of the early settlers of Springs, but it still takes place the first Saturday after Bastille Day, on July 19. This year, the fireworks are dedicated to Tony Duke, who passed away in April.
The fireworks will be provided by the celebrated Long Island firm Fireworks by Grucci, and many local businesses have stepped in to sponsor the event, including Dan’s Papers and WPPB, among others.
Rossetti Perchik, Founder and CEO of the Clamshell Foundation, notes that the fireworks “are a tradition that I didn’t want to see go away. To this day they have the feel of a private party.” Locals still associate the fireworks with Boys & Girls Harbor, and might not be aware that the Clamshell Foundation has taken the reins.
In fact, when not making noise setting off Grucci fireworks over Three Mile Harbor, the Clamshell Foundation is busy being a quiet force for good on the East End. Most of the time, the foundation is going about the behind-the-scenes business of raising funds and then awarding scholarships to East Hampton High School graduates and supporting area charities. They also sponsor the Olman Sanabria Humanitarian Award, which is given to an East Hampton Highs School student based on his or her charitable and humanitarian activities. Founded in 1992, the Clamshell Foundation quietly donates 100 percent of its proceeds back to the community—more than $125,000 so far.
After the fireworks, the next big event on the agenda for the Clamshell Foundation is their 23rd annual Sandcastle Contest on August 2, at Atlantic Avenue Beach in Amagansett. The Sandcastle Contest is the flagship event and principal fundraiser for the foundation, and the oldest event of its kind on the East End.
“It’s a great way to spend a summer day,” says Perchik. “It’s a wonderful day—no issues, no stress, no garbage.” Pretty rare for summer in the Hamptons!
For a $10-per-person entrance fee, teams of up to six people, registered in categories ranging from Sand Fleas (for the youngest competitors with one adult leader) to Sand Pros (adult professionals), will compete within their categories for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. An overall winner will also be selected. It’s always a fun, festive event for the whole family, and, of course, all proceeds are used to support the Clamshell Foundation’s charitable endeavors. Dan’s Papers is the media sponsor.
Perchik notes that, like the fireworks display, the Sandcastle Contest has woven itself into the fabric of the East End culture. “People schedule their summer vacations around it. People save their trophies for years!” he says. The trophies, it has to be said, are very nice, made from compressed sand—“the perfect trophy for a sandcastle contest,” Perchik points out. Perchik is aware of at least one former winner who was so inspired by the experience that she actually went into engineering. “She’s founded something called Engineers Without Borders and is building fish farming projects in Uganda,” he explains, recalling a legacy of building and charity that does the Clamshell Foundation proud indeed.
For more information and to make a donation, visit clamshellfoundation.org.