The Case of the Canceled Fireworks: Only the Strong Survive?
Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Louisiana, California, Arizona, Alabama --- these are just some of the U.S. States who have banned all outdoor burning in certain areas, along with banning the sale or use of fireworks. The Texas Governor's Office alone has granted some fourteen countywide bans, according to spokeswoman Lucy Nashed. This has resulted in fireworks shows being cancelled in various Texas cities, notably Austin and the Lake Travis area.
Meanwhile, in Florida, officials in Jacksonville and St. Augustine are keeping their eyes on Doppler Radar and may cancel events as the date approaches, says Christina Langston of the City of Jacksonville, Office of Special Events. And even here, that isn't all. Several of the University of Florida's media outlets, among them the school's radio stations, were forced to cancel the Gainesville fireworks event that had been a town tradition for more than 20 years, after over a half-million dollars had to be cut from the budget. We're talking about a budget of between $30,000 and $40,000, according to Randy Wright, Executive Director, Office of Media Properties, University of Florida.
Want more? In Chicago, the Park District has had to cut fireworks funding. In Cincinnati, the All-American Birthday Party and fireworks show has been cancelled due to budget concerns, says Debbie Allison, Manager of Business Services, City of Cincinnati Park Board. Even a fireworks show in New Britain, Conn., costing $50,000, has been likewise cut, says Mayor Tim Stewart; and in Jersey City, New Jersey, their fireworks show is off for a second consecutive year, according to Maryanne Kelleher, City Director of Cultural Affairs.
With all these cancellations and concerns being tossed in your Dragonmaster's path, the question must be asked: With the Fourth of July imminent, have our country's fireworks displays degenerated into a realm where, obviously, only the strong survive? Doubtless the absolute strongest is Macy*s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular, set to begin the second year of a new partnership between Macy*s, NBC and Brad Lachman Productions, under which Burbank-based Brad will oversee the Fireworks, Macy*s 85th Anniversary Thanksgiving Day Parade and Christmas at Rockefeller Center (all three of which will, of course, air LIVE on NBC); I doubt that there will be similar live fireworks events across the country; to date, the only other live fireworks show on TV that I meself know of airs on CBS, and is live from Boston with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra (as I understand it, the CBS fireworks thing in Boston runs just the hour-long conclusion of that program). ABC, not willing to upstage the fireworks shows happening in Anaheim, Lake Buena Vista, Marne-le-Valee and the other Disney Parks, has to date never mounted a live 4th of July fireworks event.
Still, one has to wonder: Are we so blind as to dare take Independence Day for granted in this particular context? It's worth the investigation, say I!