Hauppauge's tradition of a spectacular Homecoming celebration will continue – only without the fireworks that have been a longstanding highlight.
Instead, the Homecoming committee is planning a laser light show that it says will be just as grand. High school assistant principal Joy Ferrara, who heads the committee, cited safety and practicality as the primary reasons for the change.
"Last year, we had a very close call where the Town of Islip fire chief almost shut the show down. You have to keep a very large safety zone that's barricaded off ... A few very overzealous fans ran through the safety zone," she said, adding that the school wouldn't have gotten a refund from the fireworks company if the show had been shut down.
The fireworks show also required an extensive permit process through the Town of Islip, which Ferrara said was tedious, as well as coordination with the Hauppauge Fire Department.
Whereas the past fireworks shows lasted 10 minutes, the laser light show will last 20 minutes with musical accompaniment. Because that safety zone limited viewers to the bleachers, which hold about 900, the new show will allow for more fans to enjoy it from different areas of the school grounds.
"Change is a good thing, and if we can, if we have the opportunity to do something bigger and better, we want to bring that to the community," Ferrara said. "It should be really cool. I'm very excited for it."
The cost of the laser light show will be $5,000, which the Homecoming committee raised through sponsorships and through fundraising that began in the spring. Ferrara said the school district doesn't lay out any money for the Homecoming show.
The Homecoming game, parade and sports hall of fame induction are set for Oct. 19.
The traditional parade will start at 3:30 p.m. and will run from the Whiporwil school building down Townline Road, then down Lincoln Avenue to the high school. The annual sports hall of fame induction will take place at 9 a.m. and the actual game – this year against Comsewogue High School – is set for 5 p.m.
Hauppauge Pride Day and a new event started last year, Color Fest, will lead up to the actual Homecoming day. Ferrara described Color Fest as "a friendly competition between the classes." During the week prior to Homecoming, each day will feature a different theme in which the students can take part.