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David Mugar, philanthropist who added fireworks to Boston’s July Fourth celebration, dies at 82

He almost single-handedly transformed the event from a parochial celebration into a star-spangled extravaganza seen by millions on national television.

David Mugar on the Esplanade in 2016. Lane Turner/The Boston Globe, File


David Mugar, a prominent businessman and deep-pocketed philanthropist who injected fireworks and cannon fire into Boston’s annual Fourth of July celebration, one of many contributions to civic life that left a lasting imprint on the city and region, died Tuesday night. He was 82.

As chairman and CEO of Mugar Enterprises Inc., Mr. Mugar oversaw a sprawling, privately held empire comprising real estate holdings, retail businesses, performance venues, and other investment- and arts-oriented enterprises.

Beginning in 1982, he served as principal owner of WNEV-TV (Channel 7, now WHDH-TV), then the local CBS network affiliate, for more than a decade. As executive producer of the July Fourth Esplanade show, he almost single-handedly transformed the event from a parochial celebration into a star-spangled extravaganza seen by millions on national television.

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