BOSTON (CBS) — Last December, long-time Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular producer David Mugar announced that he would be retiring following the 2016 event.

“I’ve known it’s coming, I’m going by my own choice,” Mugar told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Joe Mathieu Tuesday. “It’s just that, at age 77, physically it’s tougher and tougher on me.”

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He says the celebration will continue to evolve on its own without him, but there’s one problem: the event, which draws half a million people to the Charles River Esplanade, is in need of more sponsorship to cover the several-million-dollar cost.

“It needs sponsorship, there’s no question about that,” said Mugar. “But as to who goes out and gets the sponsorship, I’m not sure.”

Mugar said Boston 4 Productions, the group that puts on the event, reached out to about 1,000 different New England companies, but none stepped forward to sponsor the event.

So this year, he’s covering the funding himself.

“I had to step in, because I don’t want to let the people down,” said Mugar.

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In the early 1970s, faced with declining attendance, Mugar and Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fielder made changes to the celebration. By introducing Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” along with fireworks, church bells, and cannons, the lagging attendance was significantly improved. The celebration draws about a half-million people to the Esplanade on the Charles River.

Watch: 2015 Fireworks Finale At Boston’s Fourth Of July Celebration

Mugar praised the event’s co-executive producers, Pam Picard and Rich MacDonald, and said the event is in great hands.

“I want to see it go on after I’m not actively involved with it, and some wonderful people are all trained and have done it for many years, and they know exactly what to do,” said Mugar.

He says that whoever takes over the event next year can count on his consultation, but says he’s also happy to leave.

“I’m available to be able to consult and help them, but I want to be–I’m trying to be semi-retired.”

You can watch this year’s celebration live on WBZ-TV or the CBS All Access app starting at 8 p.m. or listen to it live on WBZ NewsRadio 1030, Mix 104.1, or CBSBoston.com.

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WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Joe Mathieu reports