Boston mourns passing of David Mugar, originator of Fourth of July fireworks show

Boston Fourth of July fireworks display
Businessman and philanthropist David Mugar was the originator of the annual Boston Fourth of July fireworks display at the Pops concert and spent millions of dollars of his money producing it. Photo/Sayamindu Dasgupta

By Brett Peruzzi, Managing Editor

BOSTON – If you’ve ever enjoyed the Fourth of July fireworks at the Boston Pops concert at the city’s Hatch Shell on the Charles River, you have David Mugar to thank.

The wealthy Belmont businessman and philanthropist died yesterday, January 25, at 82. Back in 1973 he advocated for including both fireworks and cannon fire in the climactic performance of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” at the conclusion of the annual concert.

He won over Arthur Fiedler, then conductor of the Boston Pops orchestra, and it became the signature ending to the event, which attracts thousands of people and millions of television viewers. He became executive director of the organization that ran the event, and one of its major underwriters, reputedly spending up to $1 million of his own money each year for decades. He produced it up until 2016.

Mugar, whose family founded the Star Market grocery store chain, was the chairman and CEO of Mugar Enterprises, a company with holdings in numerous industries. He also owned several Boston television stations during the 1980s and 1990s.


Fireworks by Grucci, Lighting up Boston’s skies since 1976