City Budgets Snuffing July 4 Fireworks

Cities across the USA are dousing the fuse on Fourth of July fireworks.

ByStacy Jones
June 29, 2010, 9:52 AM

June 29, 2010 -- Cities across the USA are dousing the fuse on Fourth of July fireworks displays this year because of continued budget woes.

Glendale, Ariz., Jersey City and Springfield, Mo., are among the latest cities that have canceled their traditional Independence Day celebrations, joining other cities including San Francisco suburb Redwood City and Ridgefield Park, N.J.

Christiana McFarland, research manager for the National League of Cities, says many municipalities have good reason to think twice about watching portions of their revenue go up in smoke.

The group's May survey of elected officials found that despite signs of an economic turnaround, growth is lacking, poverty is on the rise, and budgets are still dwindling. "Making cuts to the Fourth of July events is going to be an option for cities at this point," McFarland says.

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Jersey City became the biggest city in New Jersey to cancel its 2010 display, announcing on June 2 that the funds would instead help maintain 20 summer concerts and cultural events. The show usually costs $238,000, says Maryanne Kelleher, director of the Jersey City Division of Cultural Affairs.

"All of the events we're retaining serve our primary tax-paying residents," she says. "July Fourth caters to residents, but it also caters to visitors. It's really important in a really bad economy that there are opportunities and programming for seniors and kids throughout the summer."

Glendale, Ariz., will forgo its fireworks display for the second year in a row, city spokeswoman Julie Frisoni says.

Springfield, Mo., canceled its display last year for the first time in 27 years. The city has no money to bring it back this year and had hoped private sponsors would step forward to help pay for the event, parks director Jodie Adams says.

Elsewhere:

• Two San Francisco Bay Area cities have canceled for budget reasons. In Half Moon Bay, the American Legion wasn't able to collect enough donations, says Cindy Lopez of the Chamber of Commerce. Redwood City also canceled its display this month.

• Louisville, Colo., canceled its display because of a shortage of funds, said public relations manager Meredyth Muth.

• Ridgefield Park, N.J., will go a second year without fireworks after putting on shows since 1894, says Maggie Boyd, commissioner of finance. Donations for the event fell short.

One city has found a frugal way to avoid canceling its show: Palm Bay, Fla., rescheduled last year's rained-out display for July 3 this year. City Parks and Recreation Director Steve Riser says the contract with Zambelli Fireworks allowed the city to reschedule within 364 days of the original show without paying an extra fee.

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