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David Mugar, philanthropist, Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular creator, dies at 82

BOSTON — Boston businessman and well-known philanthropist David Mugar has died at the age of 82.

Mugar was the Chairman CEO of Mugar Enterprises, Inc., and creator of the nationally televised July 4th Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular.

Mugar was born in Cambridge in 1939, the son of Star Market founder Stephen P. Mugar. He attended Babson College briefly before joining the family business full-time in 1963.

In 1974, he helped create, in concert with Maestro Arthur Fiedler of the Boston Pops, the idea of big shows on the 4th of July. Mugar recommended that Fiedler conduct Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” and he would find and coordinate live cannon fire, area church bells and fireworks over the Charles River.

Mugar, who believed that the concerts should always remain free to the public, went on to produce the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular with Maestro Fiedler until Fiedler’s passing in 1979; he then worked closely with John Williams and Keith Lockhart over the next three decades. Mugar was also one of the founders of Boston’s First Night in 1976.

In 1998, for the 25th anniversary of Boston’s Fourth of July event, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts renamed Embankment Road at the base of Beacon Hill, David G. Mugar Way.

Mugar was a Life Trustee of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, member of Board of Overseers, the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Trustee Emeritus of WGBH Educational Foundation, a former Trustee of the Boston Museum of Science, and a Corporator of Massachusetts General Hospital. He served as Chairman of the Arthur Fiedler Statue Committee which placed a bust of Maestro Fiedler on the Esplanade. Mugar was also a member of the Vendome Boston Firefighters Memorial Committee which commissioned a statue on the mall of Commonwealth Avenue. He is also the former owner of WHDH-TV and Radio

His family released the following statement:

“Our beloved father passed away peacefully last night. He was a Bostonian through and through, continually finding ways to give back to the community he loved.  He was humble and generous.  Quietly doing good for others and always leading with his heart.  The many gifts he gave to civic and cultural organizations across the city and the state were most often given in recognition and honor of his parents, our grandparents. We believe everyone will remember our Dad for the gift he gave the city, the state, and the country for 43 years and that is the 4th of July event he created with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops on the Esplanade. We will remember him as a visionary, always looking out for those less fortunate. Our Dad used the opportunity he was given to think imaginatively, act honestly, and make a difference to those most in need. That is a legacy we will work hard to preserve.  We love you Dad, and we will miss you.”

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