That was the mentality of the mayor of Lowell, Massachusetts, who cancelled the city’s fireworks display as a result of an $18 million budget gap and 48 layoffs this year. The New York Times explained that the city’s show would have cost about $45,000, equivalent to one full-time job. “If we hadn’t cut off the fireworks, we would have had to lay off 49,” said Bernard Lynch, Lowell’s city manager. Lowell had a lot of company this year as many cities and communities struggled to find room for the boom in their budgets.

Shows that depended solely on money from sponsors were cancelled simply because sponsors pulled their support. The money was just not there. Numerous other cancellations were a matter of respect for workers that have been laid off. Many communities could not rationalize the need for fireworks while putting its residents out of work.

Many other cities and towns, however, still found ways to make their shows go on.
In many cases this summer when communities had cancelled their shows, residents or local sponsors stepped in to donate the money needed. Several cities always try to top last year’s display, but that was not possible for some this summer. Just having some sort of show was worth it. By cutting back the length of a show and having fireworks linger in the sky longer, residents could still enjoy the displays and probably not notice the difference in length. Neighborhood associations also took the initiative to provide their own displays if their cities did not.

Several communities who provided 4th of July events were preparing for bigger crowds as towns close by cancelled their events. One show in Seattle was cancelled because its sponsor said there was too much competition from neighboring towns, and the sponsor did not want to invest the money. The sponsor instead donated the money to a cause that will last more than twenty minutes or so – a local charity that feeds the hungry.

Julie Heckman, the executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA), the leading trade association of the fireworks industry, makes a good point in saying, “with travel and tourism on the decline due to the economy, ‘home town celebrations have never been more important to bring communities together, give them hope, and restore optimism.’”

I agree with Heckman for the most part. I went without fireworks this year not because of my town’s tight budget, but rather its bad weather. Sure, it was disappointing because fireworks displays are a great tradition, but there are worse things than going without a show on the 4th. A fireworks display is an expensive luxury. A huge chunk of the expense is allocated to the cost of police and firefighter support to ensure safety during a show. Two very unfortunate accidents over this year’s holiday, totaling five deaths, prove the importance of such safety measures.

Overall, the fireworks display industry has not really suffered this year. Sure, some adjustments were made to meet the needs of consumers, but the demand for fireworks still endures and always will. Even though some cities cancelled their shows, the loss has been somewhat balanced out by the increase in fireworks shows at events like MLB games. Also, it is possible that more backyard fireworks were purchased this year as a result of communities cancelling their shows. According to the APA, backyard fireworks have more than doubled since 2000. In 2007, usage was up to 238 million pounds compared to 2000’s 102 million pounds.

There’s a time to save and a time to spend, and decision makers are held responsible. They must always keep in mind that there is the chance that a spending decision could end up being a dud.
Share To:

Kathleen Jordan

Post A Comment:

0 comments so far,add yours