Many July Fourth Fireworks Shows Canceled Due to Budget Cuts

Budget cuts force officials to cancel July 4th fireworks in many places.

June 30, 2010— -- Some Americans will have to do without the rockets' red glare and bombs bursting in air on July 4th this year because many cities have cut fireworks celebrations.

"It's been a tough year," Clayton, N.C., Town Councilman Alex Harding said.

Clayton's fireworks were snuffed out this year because of budget cuts, Harding told Many towns can't afford the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars for fireworks and the necessary security and safety costs.

"We've had to make a lot of painful decisions," he said.

Harding said the town has had to lay people off and could not justify spending the $12,000 on a fireworks celebration when every dollar counts. People seem to understand.

"My constituents are actually happy and think it was a fiscally good and responsible decision," Harding said.

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Harding said many people will probably choose to go see fireworks in the city of Raleigh, less than 20 miles away.

Small towns like Clayton are not the only places that have been affected. Celebrations have been called off nationwide, from cities like Glendale, Ariz., and Springfield, Mo., as well as suburban towns like Medford, N.J., and Middletown, Conn.

Even major cities have been affected. Dallas had to cancel its fireworks after organizers struggled to find corporate sponsors to make up the city's portion of the bill, and its celebration was salvaged at the last minute by a pair of corporate angels.

"Because the city is in such dire straits financially, I didn't feel like it was right to ask the city for anything because they're having trouble keeping libraries and parks open," Craig Holcomb, president of the Friends of Fair Park, said.

The Friends of Fair Park puts on the fireworks each year. Holcomb said they get about a third of their funds from the city and corporate sponsors cover the rest, but they were forced to cancel the event last week because the city couldn't come up with its share.

Corporate Angels Salvage Some July 4 Fireworks

"This is the first time I've ever had to cancel an event," Holcomb said. "There would have been no public fireworks."

Fortunately for Dallas residents, two companies, Dr. Pepper and Gold Metal Recycling, stepped up within three days of the cancellation to raise the rest of the $100,000 needed for the celebrations. Dallas will have the chance to enjoy fireworks, but it will be a day late on July 5. Holcomb said by the time they had secured the necessary funds, all of the fireworks companies were booked for the Fourth.

Corporate sponsors also came to the aid of New Haven, Conn., which also canceled its celebrations for financial reasons. The city also announced they would not put up a Christmas tree on the New Haven green as they have done in years past as a cost saving measure, according to Sabrina Bruno, event and project coordinator for the New Haven Department of Parks.

The New Have celebration will still include fireworks, but will move from its traditional location on the harbor to the top of a hill in East Rock Park. Bruno said this lowers the cost from over $150,000 to only $20,000 because the new location requires less security and other resources.

While residents in Clayton, Dallas and New Haven will all be able to see fireworks in their towns or nearby, residents of Monterey, Calif., are not so lucky. Their fireworks, the last July 4th show in the area, have been called off for the second year in a row.

"Like all cities across the United states and particularly here in California, we have been struggling to balance our budget each year," Monterey City Manager Fred Meurer said. "It was just, really, what is the most financially responsible thing to do?"

Meurer said the closest free fireworks shows are over 40 miles away, which means Monterey residents will be stuck with a long drive, or no fireworks.

"They were disappointed," about the decision, Meurer said. "Over 25 years, those fireworks had become part of our tradition."

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