No bucks, no boom on July 4th

(AP)

Expect fewer booms this July Fourth because of financial busts in some cities and towns.

As many folks pack up picnics and head to see the fireworks this holiday weekend, the skies over a couple-dozen cash-strapped communities will be missing the spectacular crackle of color that Americans associate with the nation’s birthday.

Blame the economy.

Cities and towns including Antioch, Calif.; Louisville, Colo.; Akron, Ohio; Stamford, Conn.; and Jersey City, N.J., were forced to pull the plug on their local fireworks shows because of tight budgets.

In Antioch, Mayor James Davis said it was a tough call to cancel the city’s nearly $80,000 fireworks show and festivities. It’s a celebration he and his wife brought back to the area 15 years ago. But even more difficult, he says, is laying off 18 people this year.

“You get to know a lot of these employees on a one-to-one basis,” said Davis. “How can we spend money on the fireworks when we’re making these cutbacks?”

It is the same story in Clayton, N.C., where Mayor Jody McLeod says he can’t remember a year the town of 16,000 didn’t have fireworks — until this year. Clayton is facing layoffs and spending $30,000 for fireworks just didn’t seem right.

“It’s devastating,” said the mayor. “But because of the economy, this is just what the town has to do.”

McLeod has received a few letters and e-mails asking how he could cancel the fireworks — “a piece of Americana,” said one; “insane,” cried another. But most residents “understand that you can only spend what you have, just like a family,” said McLeod.

Dallas almost lost its fireworks when organizers couldn’t find enough corporate sponsors. After they canceled, a last-minute donation from a scrap metal recycling company, Gold Metal Recyclers, saved the show, although it’ll be held on July 5.

Gold Metal and Dr Pepper are contributing $80,000 for the fireworks show and a performance by the Dallas Wind Symphony.

Donations from a father-son team saved fireworks from fizzling in Cedar Grove, N.J., where Mayor Robert O’Toole and his son, State Sen. Kevin O’Toole, are splitting the $7,000 cost.

“People always seem to step up in times of need,” said Township Manager Thomas Tucci.

In Boston, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company ran an online contest complete with a history quiz and then awarded $10,000 grants to 10 cities, including Cincinnati and Montclair, N.J., to help them continue their July Fourth celebrations.

While some communities struggled to find donors or had to cancel altogether, the fireworks industry itself is … well, booming.

“The fireworks industry tends to be recession resistant,” said Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association. “I think that’s because these community celebrations are so important.”

Industry sales last year were just under a billion dollars, at $945 million — with steady annual increases over the last decade.

About two-thirds of the revenue last year was for consumer fireworks, said Heckman. Consumer fireworks are sold most commonly at neighborhood stands versus the display fireworks that are used at large community events by licensed professionals.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission urges people this holiday weekend to play it safe with sparklers, firecrackers and aerial fireworks.

The agency knows of two deaths and nearly 9,000 emergency room visits for injuries from fireworks related incidents last year. Most injuries were to people younger than 20 and in many cases resulted in the loss of a limb.

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2 Responses to "No bucks, no boom on July 4th"

  1. griff  July 3, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Four things I look forward to every summer – volleyball season, K-Rock-A-Thon, Unadilla National Motocross, and the Fourth of July. Well I guess you can add bikini weather, too.

    I made my annual two hour pilgrimmage to Pennsylvania yesterday (having fun is illegal here in NY) and the fireworks shop was packed. I spent the same amount that I do every year, which according to my wife is always too much, and to myself always too little.

    It’s a god-damned shame. State parks and beaches across the land are closed due to lack of funding. Firewoks shows cancelled or trimmed down. But the rockets red glare can be seen all over the world, should you wish to travel to our numerous and ever-expanding war zones.

    Two hundred thirty-four years tomorrow, and America today would be unrecognizable to the Founders.

    As I do every year. I ask that all that don’t believe in the vision of America just stay the hell home and watch Seinfeld reruns or some thing. This day is not for you. Perhaps you’ll hear the distant thunder and imagine what it was like on Bunker Hill, Valley Forge, Saratoga or Oriskany, where our forefathers bled and died to deliver the freedoms we’ve so dutifully squandered at the behest of our priveleged class.

    Happy Birthday America!

  2. Bogofree  July 3, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Here in “Nanny State” of Massachusetts our corrupt legislature has made us all safe from ourselves by outlawing fireworks! Thankfully, NH is a moderate drive into the land of the sensible so that we can stock up and put on our own displays for about a $100 investment. So far the local authorities have a yearly practice of looking the other way as us rural hillbilly “Swamp Yankees” do our thing. In fact – truth be told – most are active participants.

    My wife just got through with her lecture about my almost total ho hum of Xmas and Thanksgiving – the 4th is my favorite. The fireworks, the history, the baseball, the food, the parades, the carnivals and the great weather. I may not participate as much as I had once done but the memories linger. After all this is the ultimate birthday party.

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