No firework display means one less displaced city worker
by David Lazenby
Jul 01, 2010 | 1336 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As a youngster who enjoyed playing with fireworks as much as any other typical 10-year-old, I came across many duds — pyrotechnical playthings that failed to provide the POP! for which I’d paid.

Because of revenue shortfalls that resulted from last year’s crimp in the economy, 2010 is turning out to be a dud year in terms of firework displays.

Sunday will mark the second year in a row in which the annual firework display held at Jasper’s old airport has been canceled.

Because I know putting on a good firework display is an expensive endeavor, I support the decision to cancel these annual displays of light and sound that are always crowd pleasers.

That doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.

For most, Independence Day and firework displays go hand-in-hand. Without having the option to go watch a big spectacle of explosives, I’m sure on Sunday I will have a feeling that something is missing. After all, the 4th of July firework show is as much a piece of Americana as apple pie.

However, I will be comforted by the knowledge that the decision by our city leaders to distinguish this year’s display expected to cost between $25,000 and $40,000 means at least one city worker has been able to keep their job.

“When things are so tight and we’re having to watch everything as closely as we have been this year, the firework show has enough money spent on it to cost us an employee,” said Jasper Mayor Sonny Posey. “We’ve got employees down here that need to have a job so they can feed their family. If having that show cost us one of them, I don’t believe I could rest well at night.”

On Thursday I was unable to get in touch with Alabama Fire Marshal Ed Paulk. I wanted to ask him if the display permits required for putting on a firework show in Alabama were down this year. However, I’m almost certain that Jasper is not the only city in the state that is forgoing firework displays this year.

A recent Chicago Tribune article reported the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s office issued nearly 200 fewer fireworks permits this year compared to last year. I’m sure Alabama is no different.

I also haven’t spoken with area retailers of consumer fireworks. However, I bet their businesses are booming this week since there will probably be more backyard displays of rockets’ red glare as a result of the lack of professional firework displays being put on.

I hope those planning to shoot fireworks this weekend will keep in mind that there is a risk involved in playing with sparklers, Roman candles and their ilk. When you play with fire, there’s always a chance you’ll get burned.

In fact, about 9,000 injuries occur in the U.S. each year as a result of fireworks, according to the National Council on Firework Safety.

So, if you have one of those duds (and you will), I urge you to not attempt to ignite its fuse for a second time. Instead you should wait about 15 minutes before wetting it.

Also, I recommend that firework users read and follow label directions, always have an adult present and use common sense.

Posey said he hopes the city’s annual firework show will return next year.

“If we have the one next year, for the inaugural return of it, we’re going to have a big one.”

He added he believes that Jasper and other cities next year will be in a position in which they can afford to put on these shows.

I hope he’s right.

David Lazenby is the news editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at 221-2840 or via e-mail at david.lazenby@mountaineagle.com.