Monday, November 28, 2022

Dark of July: Fireworks displays canceled in some cities

Dark of July: Fireworks displays canceled in some cities

by Anita Snow | The Associated Press

PHOENIX – Skies will remain dark for a third consecutive July as western US cities scatter as some major fireworks displays have been canceled again this year – some over concerns of wildfires amid dry weather and others over pandemic-related staffing and supplies Due to series issues.

Phoenix canceled three of its major Independence Day performances because it could not receive professional-grade fireworks. Shows are still ongoing in several other cities around Phoenix.

“Unless you’re in a really remote area where that was the only show, most people will be able to find a show nearby,” said Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnic Association.

Overseas shipping, transportation in the US, rising insurance costs and labor shortages led to a demand for canceled performances as well as concerts, fireworks shows at sports stadiums and the Fourth of July holiday that was largely over the course of the first two years of the pandemic. Was absent till now. , Heckman said.

“Demand is so high that it’s almost like a perfect storm,” Heckman said, adding to the crisis by not having enough crew to work on the show or rental trucks to transport materials.

China produces most professional-grade fireworks that shoot into the air and produce colorful, dazzling bursts in a variety of sizes. The shortfall is not in manufacturing, Heckman said, but in overcrowding at US ports.

Heckman said some companies have recently chartered about a dozen ships, each containing 200-250 containers of consumer-grade fireworks considered hazardous materials, and shipped them to ports in Alabama and Louisiana. Shipped to evacuate at ports on the west coast.

Other cities across the country are calling on demonstrations because of the threat of wildfire. Flagstaff in northern Arizona will hold its annual Independence Day parade through the city’s historic downtown, but a new laser light show will replace the standard pyrotechnic display.

This spring three large wildfires engulfed the mountain town alone, causing hundreds of people to evacuate, closing a major highway and destroying some homes.

“The decision was made quickly because we wanted people to be able to make plans with their families,” said Flagstaff city spokeswoman Sarah Langley.

Several local jurisdictions have banned the use of fireworks amid a punishing drought, even coinciding with the start of the annual rainy season, which has already caused flooding in the US Southwest. . Fireworks are always banned in national forests.

A popular North San Joaquin Valley fireworks show that brought thousands of people to Lake Don Pedro, California in pre-pandemic times, was also canceled due to drought concerns, including the lake’s projected low level.

“The safety of our guests and being good stewards of the land entrusted to us are our top priorities,” the Don Pedro Recreation Agency said in a statement.

Lompoc on California’s central coast and Castle Rock in Colorado canceled their fireworks displays over concerns about wildfires. Nevertheless, an Independence Eve fireworks show with live music by the Colorado Symphony is planned for July 3 at Denver’s Civic Center Park.

In New Mexico, the most devastating wildfire season in modern history will not prevent major cities in that state, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, from displaying Fourth of July fireworks under fire department supervision.

Southgate Mall in Missoula, Montana has canceled its annual Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show without giving any reason.

Elsewhere in the US, some North Carolina cities canceled displays after a recent fireworks-related explosion killed one person on a small farm and a large number of fireworks were destroyed in a related fire.

In Minneapolis, a fireworks display will not be held over the Mississippi due to staff shortages and construction in a nearby park.

Those who plan to light consumer-grade fireworks like bottle rockets, crackers and ground-level fountains at home can expect to pay more for them. The American Pyrotechnic Association estimates that costs increase by 35% across the industry.

Fire officials in some cities worry that the cancellation of community displays may prompt some people to use consumer-grade fireworks.

“We are generally concerned with sparks and exposure to homes and dry brush,” said Phoenix Fire spokesman Captain Evan Gammage. “We get a lot of calls around this time of year.”

Associated Press writers Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona contributed to this story.

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