Fireworks don’t come cheap. Lighting up the night sky with a professional, pyrotechnic production can cost $2,000 a minute.
So dollar-wise, it’s a defensible move that Jackson County canceled the annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration, an event that drew a crowd of 15,000 last year at a cost of $153,000.
Still, county officials should have been more forthcoming about the decision. Most people learned only last week through media reports that Jackson County had quietly extinguished one of the largest Independence Day events in the area.
A note that the popular fireworks display would not happen this year was only recently posted to the county’s parks and recreation website.
The decision was made earlier this year to call a halt to the free, fun-for-the-whole-family gathering at Longview Lake. The news hit Kansas City like a faulty, sputtering bottle rocket.
For five years, the county effort at the expansive lake has been one of the most spectacular of local fireworks displays. Last year’s festivities included a concert, skydivers and military tributes. The fireworks have never been completely county-funded, as corporate sponsors and donations helped offset some of the costs.
The county is offering a glimmer of hope, suggesting that the event is merely on hold. But organizing and soliciting contributions to revive the event will require months of planning.
The county should start working now to bring it back in 2018.
This celebration was a bright spot for Jackson County, which is often overshadowed in the hierarchy of Kansas City government.
The event also was a public service, helping people stay safe while they watched the professionals put on a dazzling display. Every emergency room doctor, nurse and paramedic in the nation can attest to the dangers of handling fireworks.
Heading out to Longview Lake and just enjoying the view was a better option for families. With a commitment now to regroup and raise funds, the county could ensure that a dark July 4 sky doesn’t become an annual occurrence.
Jackson County should continue the celebratory tradition that John Adams envisioned so many years ago.
“The day will be the most memorable in the history of America,” he wrote on July 3, 1776. “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade … bonfires and illuminations (fireworks) from one end of this continent to the other, from this day forward forevermore.”