ML - Boston Common

2013 - Issue 3 - Summer

Boston Common - Niche Media - A side of Boston that's anything but common.

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SPIRIT OF GENEROSITY mr. america DAVID G. MUGAR, THE WIZARD BEHIND BOSTON'S SPLASHIEST EVENT, CELEBRATES 40 YEARS OF GIVING THE JULY FOURTH FIREWORKS TO THE CITY. BY REBECCA KNIGHT "Arthur Fiedler said, 'Don't worry about it, David. Just let all hell break loose!' So we did." 50 PHOTOGRAPHY BY ERIC LEVIN (MUGAR); JAY CONNOR (FINALE) W hat began as a casual conversation in the car has become an annual gift both to Boston—and from Boston to the nation—on our country's birthday. The origins of the Fourth of July Boston Pops Fireworks Spectactular are rooted in Executive Producer David Mugar's friendship with the late Arthur Fiedler, the longtime conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra. They were introduced backstage at a concert one night and soon learned they shared a hobby: listening to police and fire scanners and then driving to the scene of the action. The two "spent countless hours together, mostly in the car" sipping Dunkin' Donuts coffee and listening to the steady crackle of the radio. One September evening in 1973, as the two were driving through the Back Bay, Mugar (pronounced mew-gar) suggested that next year's July Fourth concert conclude with fireworks and David G. Mugar the 1812 Overture, along with cannon fire and church bells. "I first created the told him I can't read music, so I'd need some help coordinating Boston Pops Fireworks the fireworks for the bombastic end to the 1812. He said, 'Don't Spectacular in worry about it, David. Just let all hell break loose!' So we did." 1974. RIGHT: Its grand finale is an The show went off perfectly. Emboldened by the success of over-the-top his experiment, Mugar decided to do it again a year later to spectacle. improve upon the performance. And, of course, the following year, 1976, practically required a grand patriotic gesture. A week after the bicentennial celebration, CBS ran an hour-long special with clips of festivities from various cities around the country. It saved Boston's fireworks for the finale. "In a day marked by crescendos," said Walter Cronkite triumphantly "this was perhaps the high point." Says Mugar: "I knew right then and there we'd created an institution." What most people don't realize, however, is that for Mugar, producing the show is purely a labor of love. He devotes more than 1,200 hours a year to it, —DAVID G. MUGAR but receives no compensation. The Fireworks Spectacular is his brainchild and his baby; he is the reason the show is one of Boston's signature events. Yet now runs Mugar Enterprises—a real estate development group and investhe is too humble to take any credit. The show is "a collaborative effort," he ment firm—and is a profoundly practical man. His son, Jonathan, is says. Sponsors help to finance the cost of staff, security, and the fireworks shadowing him this year to learn more about the event, and his 12-year-old themselves, but Mugar sees not a cent. This is something that means a lot to grandson, William, has shown an interest in one day doing the job. "There's no God-given right; this is not a monarchy, but to have another generation of him, and something that would make his legendary family proud. His business acumen made this generosity possible, but personal success Mugars play a role in the Fourth of July would be wonderful," he says. "I continued on page 52 was hard won for Mugar, despite being heir to the Star Market fortune. He BOSTONCOMMON-MAGAZINE.COM 050-055_BC_SP_SoG_SUM13.indd 50 6/10/13 4:43 PM

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