Fireworks show set for Saturday

JOHNSTOWN – A Clifton Park man’s desire to give back to his former community was the impetus behind a free public fireworks show set for Saturday night at Knox Field.

“I put this together,” Tom Christiano said last week. “I grew up in Johnstown and remember going to this as a kid and it disappeared. I’ve been wanting it to come back.”

The show starts with entertainment provided by Lexington Center band Flame at 7 p.m. Saturday, with the fireworks set to go off at about 9:30 p.m. Christiano said a Life Net medical helicopter will be part of the show for spectators. Also during the show, Johnstown’s own Uncle Vito of Albany FM radio station WPYX will provide music.

Christiano said area businesses have donated prizes to be raffled off. There will also be donation bucket in place to “keep the fireworks alive” in Johnstown, he said.

He said the event has a rain date of Sunday, but only if the Saturday event becomes a “complete rainout.”

Johnstown City Historian Noel Levee said Monday he remembers the fireworks shows Christiano alluded to in the 1970s at Knox Field.

“There used to be a Battle of the Bands and fireworks,” Levee said.

Christiano, a Johnstown High School graduate who now works as a fireworks technician, is coordinating the event titled, “Star Spangled Fireworks.” He said the fireworks are expected to last about 15 to 17 minutes, accompanied by some patriotic music.

There is no charge for the festivities, which are being presented by Christiano and sponsored by the Johnstown Area Community Center with the permission of the Greater Johnstown School District. Knox Field isn’t locked, but the public will be allowed to enter starting at about 5:30 p.m.

“The JACC is paying for it with the help of local businesses and individuals,” Christiano said.

A concession stand will be provided by the Johnstown High School Purple and Gold Booster Club.

“I’m expecting a very large crowd,” Mayor Sarah Slingerland said Monday. “We’re grateful to Mr. Christiano for the inspiration and for the time put in by the Johnstown Area Community Center and the citizens who donated.”

Christiano is a pyrotechnician for Alonzo Fireworks in Mechanicville and he said he will be setting up the fireworks at Knox Field earlier in the afternoon. He said he and his sister, Lisa Brown, who did the fundraising for the JACC, had approached the center about six weeks ago to get going on the project. He said Matt Therien at the JACC was extremely helpful.

“The school district has been more than receptive,” he added.

Christiano also did the fireworks for the last New Year’s Eve celebration downtown.