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Norwich - Plans are coming together fast for the annual July 4 fireworks festival at Norwich Harbor and for the key fundraiser gala a month earlier.
During a press conference last week to announce that Scott Capano, co-owner of the Harp & Dragon Irish pub, will be honored as this year's recipient of the Ronald Aliano Service Award, festival organizers said the award gala is becoming its own major attraction.
Capano will receive the award at the June 5 fundraiser and silent auction to be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. under the festival tent at the Marina at American Wharf.
Michael Franklin, chairman of the fireworks committee, said organizers hope to raise $40,000 this year, including the $9,000 pumped into the event from last year's coffers.
"The great thing about this event is that no public money goes into it," Franklin said, thanking corporate sponsors and individual donors. The city holds the funds and provides the accounting, but contributes no taxpayer funds.
The list of auction items is growing daily, ranging from one-of-a-kind items to tickets to major local events and unique experiences, including "ride-alongs" with Norwich police and American Ambulance crews.
Rocky Hill-based Synthetic Cinema International will offer a role as an extra in the new movie being filmed in Norwich based on local author Wally Lamb's Christmas novel "Wishin' and Hopin.'"
Another headliner auction item is a sunset cruise aboard a 60-foot Hatteras yacht for up to 30 people. There's also a four-pass with parking to the Travelers' PGA golf tournament and a "whale experience" at Mystic Aquarium.
The event also includes music, food and a cash bar.
Capano is the host of the second major fireworks fundraiser. The Harp & Dragon for the second straight year will operate an open air café on the rooftop of the city's Market Street parking garage. Tables will be sold and barbecue food and drinks offered, along with an unobstructed view of the fireworks over Norwich Harbor.
All profits from the café will be donated to the fireworks committee.
Capano on Thursday said he was honored and humbled to receive the award named after one of Norwich's biggest cheerleaders and business leaders. Aliano founded and was a major contributor to the fireworks festival. Capano said his family, which owns Harp & Dragon and the local ShopRite supermarket, hopes to carry on the tradition of investing in Norwich.
"Ron Aliano was devoted to Norwich, and I like to think I am," Capano said. "I am passionate about the city of Norwich. We make decisions that benefit Norwich as much as they do my family."
What: Silent Auction and Award Gala to benefit Norwich July 4 fireworks festival
When: Thursday, June 5, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Where: Marina at American Wharf
$20 in advance, $25 at the door.
Tickets available at NCDC office, 77 Main St., Norwich.
Contact Michael Franklin (860) 460-8144 or firstname.lastname@example.org