NEWINGTON - The 39th annual Life. Be In It. Extravaganza is set to bring helicopters, hot air balloons, fireworks and sky-divers to Mill Pond Park next week.
Newington Parks and Recreation’s biggest event of the year is expected to be a giant celebration of summertime and a whole lot of fun for the community.
“We’ve outdone ourselves,” Parks and Recreation Superintendent Bill DeMaio said this week. “We’re chock full of entertainment.”
As the driving force of the department, DeMaio partners with countless businesses, civic organizations and residents to make the annual event bigger and better each summer.
It all begins next Wednesday, July 17, with a carnival in the park. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., over 1,000 children from summer camps across the region will enjoy rides and games on a special field trip to Newington. That includes Newington’s own Camp Recreate.
The carnival will continue from 5-10 p.m. with $16 wristbands for visitors to ride the rides all night. The Beer and Wine Garden opens that same evening, from 6-9 p.m. It will be open Wednesday to Saturday from 6-9 p.m. each night.
The Church of Christ Congregational is sponsoring free sundaes for families from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at a tie-dye party.
Century 21 Stamm is sponsoring helicopter rides during that same time frame, for $55 a person.
Meanwhile, the Larry Stevens Band will perform live.
On Thursday, July 18, the carnival will be open from 5-10 p.m. Rosenberg Orthodontics is sponsoring a free Tiki Water Slide for kids from 5-8 p.m., continuing through Saturday.
Adults are invited to partake in a Bring Your Own Cheese Party (BYOC) at 6 p.m. with Connecticut Beverage Mart providing free wine. At the same time, residents who received a “Kindness Counts” sign in their yard over the last few months are being asked to bring it to the park at 6 p.m. to take a picture together. Over 500 nominations came in during this recent initiative and all had signs posted to their properties. The band What it Is! will perform.
The Newington Republican Town Committee is sponsoring a 16’-by-5-foot mural for kids to decorate. It was designed by a Utah company to appear like a page from a coloring book, using an artist’s depiction of the Newington Extravaganza.
On Friday, hot air balloon rides will take people up and above the park from 6-8 p.m. for $15 each, sponsored by ReMax. It’s also Craft Beer Night. Wristbands cost $25 in advance and $35 at the door. Not only is it open to the public but former Newington Parks and Recreation staff and volunteers are invited to make it a reunion of sorts.
Meanwhile right around 8:05 p.m. there will be an aerial show never seen before in Newington, sponsored by West Hill Automotive Truck and Trailer owner Michael Camillo. Three professional skydivers holding canisters of smoke will jump out of a plane 6,000 feet in the air and create designs in the sky before landing in Mill Pond.
“I have been a longtime supporter of the Newington Parks and Recreation Department in the past,” Camillo said. “I love what is going on with them and in town. I have been sponsoring the Motorcycle Madness program and have been a big supporter of the Touch-A-Truck program that they run as well. This sky diver support just seemed like a natural fit for me to help get off the ground, no pun intended.”
Parks and Recreation Board Chairman Don Woods encouraged local residents not to miss the show.
“Not many people can say that they have seen something like this before,” Woods said. “It is going to be exciting.”
On Saturday the Extravaganza opens at 10 a.m. with a carnival, food truck festival, craft fair and entertainment. The beer and wine garden will open at 11:30 a.m. The Extravaganza Fireworks will begin at 9:30 p.m. and are expected to be bigger and better than ever.
Bigger and better means more free giveaways this year in general, thanks to the Extravaganza’s community sponsors.
“It’s a total team effort,” DeMaio said. “The entire community gets involved. We want to thank all the businesses and sponsors that have come forward. We’re appreciative of the Newington Police and Fire Departments, Newington Volunteer EMS, the Parks and Recreation Board and of course our department staff, who put in endless hours these four days. We all get very little sleep but it’s all worth it.”
You can purchase tickets for the helicopter rides and craft beer night by calling 860-665-8660 or visiting Newington Parks and Recreation on Facebook.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or email@example.com.