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Clamshell Foundation fireworks set for Saturday

Rossetti Perchik has a rain date for Saturday night's Clamshell Foundation fireworks show at Three Mile Harbor in East Hampton just in case, but doubts the weather will be bad enough to use it.

"Unless we get a hurricane, it would be like putting your hand in front of a freight train," said Perchik, whose rain date is Sunday. "One year it was so foggy they [fireworks] went off above the clouds. All you could do is see the sky turn blue or green or red. And, it was OK. Everybody understood."

The show has deep East End roots -- it was started in the 1970s as a private backyard event by writer George Plimpton, who held it the Saturday after Bastille Day, July 14, because he loved Paris. The date remains.

It got bigger every year, and in 1980 it became a public fundraiser for Boys Harbor, a camp started by Anthony Drexel Duke that later became Boys and Girls Harbor. The camp no longer exists on the old Duke Estate, which is now county parkland. The charity, headquartered in Harlem, still thrives, but no longer sponsors the fireworks show.

That job was taken on by the Clamshell Foundation, whose mission is fostering education in various fields, in 2009, after the show stopped in 2005. On Saturday as it gets dark, about 3,000 people are expected to gather on the shore and another 500 or 600 boats filled with people will anchor offshore to watch gold, green and red bursts.

This year, there will be a video tribute to Duke, who is 95 and living in Florida. And foundation members seeking to raise $42,000 to put on the show will use a fleet of a dozen small boats that will go into the harbor to collect donations.

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