News Column

Independence Day Comes With a Whimper, Not a Bang, as Cash-Strapped Cities Ax Fireworks Shows

July 1, 2009


fireworks shows, canceled nationwide, budgets

In many cities this year, the economy's bust means the loss of any Fourth of July boom.

That's because fireworks budgets across the land have taken a significant hit as cities trim expenses to maintain their level of services.

Among the cities canceling their plans to abide by John Adam's suggestion that Independence Day be celebrated with "guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations" are Miami, Fla.; San Jose, Calif.; Anaheim, Calif.; Flint, Mich.; Parma, Ohio; Mesa, Ariz.; Seattle, Wash; Vancouver, Wash.; and Garland, Texas.

In Charlottesville, Va., where businesses raise money every year for the pyrotechnic spectacle, the event is being scaled back this year -- and canceled altogether for 2010.

"We thought it was just not the right year to be raising money for the fireworks when the food banks were suffering and more primary human services were at stake," Dave Phillips, chairman of the organizing committee, told the Associated Press.

In suburban Los Angeles, the City Council of Montebello expressed a similar sentiment, voting to divert its $39,000 fireworks budget to local food banks, according to the L.A. Times.

"The last food bank line I saw had more than 1,000 people in it," Mayor Rosemarie Vasquez told the paper. "We figured that, instead of burning the money in the air, why not give it to people who need it."

In some cases, fireworks shows were canceled to avoid laying off city employees.

For instance, in Lowell, Mass., budget woes are forcing the city to fire 48 employees. Going forward with the $45,000 fireworks show would have meant laying off a 49th person, according to the New York Times.

Source: (c) 2009. All rights reserved.

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters