W e may be able still this morning to detect the smell of black powder in the air after last night’s numerous fireworks displays – both public and private – across our area. So rooted in tradition are the July 4 extravaganzas that they go on every year, no matter how tight municipal budgets, and despite their considerable cost.
An average, small-town fireworks display of 20 to 30 minutes can cost between $10,000 and $25,000. There were no less than eight public shows within a 30-mile radius of Washington last night. Private donations helped with some of those displays, but local tax dollars were used, too.
The city of New Kensington in Westmoreland County, which is about the same size as Washington, had no fireworks this year. According to a report by KDKA television, fundraising was not organized this year, and Mayor Tom Guzzo said no city money was budgeted for a display because there are more important uses for tax dollars.
Residents voiced their disappointment. We imagine that they were forced to drive a few miles farther to see other people’s money go up in smoke.
It would make some sense if townships, boroughs and cities joined forces to create fewer but larger fireworks shows. It would also make sense for local governments to consider other less expensive ways to help residents celebrate the nation’s independence.
We realize some readers may feel that fireworks are a necessary display of patriotism, and that to suggest less use of them is somehow un-American. We would remind them that love of country is not determined by the size or number of flags one waves or by the explosion of rockets but by the space we hold for the nation in our hearts.