Many Towns Will Forgo Fireworks Celebrations This Year

Fireworks are a fire hazard and a large expense.

July 2, 2011 — -- To celebrate Independence Day, there will be quite a fireworks show on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. But in many other places, Americans will be denied their Fourth of July celebrations.

The summer has brought unusually dry weather to some parts of the country, creating fears that having fireworks celebrations would be just too dangerous.

"The chances of fires getting started are much greater when it's hot and exceptionally dry out," Accuweather broadcaster Jeannette Calle said.

With wildfires already blazing in Arizona and New Mexico, the bans on fireworks are spreading. In parts of Arizona, Alabama, Florida and Texas, nearly every county has said no fireworks.

"Across New Mexico, we have seen just how quickly fires can burn through our landscape and impact our communities," New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said. "I am asking New Mexicans to follow all state and local fireworks bans and restrictions and pull together to ensure a safe and celebratory Independence Day weekend."

But New Mexico's governor has limited power.

"I ordered no fireworks used on state land," Martinez said. "That is the only authority I have as governor."

Martinez begged residents to forgo fireworks this year.

In Texas, where more than 3 million acres have been scorched, nearly every county has banned fireworks. This means that for the first time, 100,000 people in Austin who attend the free Austin Symphony Orchestra performance won't see fireworks explode because the show was cancelled.

"It's very disappointing for everybody here," said Don Hill, the director of communications for the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

But people aren't the only ones disappointed by the fireworks ban. It's also disappointing for those who make and sell fireworks, which is a half a billion dollar business.

"I think this year has to be one of the most stringent and most devastating for country and industry as a whole," said Julie Heckmann of the American Pyrotechnics Association.

But one Texas town, Amarillo, has come up with a solution to the problems: Instead of the usual pyrotechnics, the town will have a laser show instead.

"Something new, something different and something safe. And really celebrating a wonderful day," Amarillo National Bank Vice President William Ware said.

It's not just the fire hazard that is causing the lack of fireworks this year. For some cities, economic hardships are putting an end to their patriotic plans.

In Chicago, for example, the city will have its big fireworks show on the Fourth, but the show for the big annual food festival, Taste of Chicago, this weekend, has been cancelled because of budget worries.