Less July 4 sparkle as fireworks displays snuffed

Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:12am EDT
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By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters Life!) - The Fourth of July holiday in the will have less sparkle as some cities and towns banned the private use of fireworks and canceled public displays citing drought, wildfires, finances and even a flood.

"We're heartbroken," said Don Hill, a spokesman for the Austin, Texas Symphony Orchestra, whose annual fireworks display has been canceled for the first time in the show's 35-year history because of drought. The event regularly draws more than 100,000 people.

In Arizona, following a sweep of wildfires, authorities have banned fireworks in numerous cities, from Flagstaff in the north to Tucson, Douglas and Sierra Vista in the south.

Nearby, in New Mexico, where wildfires have burned more than 700,000 acres this season and threaten the nation's preeminent nuclear testing complex, Governor Susana Martinez has said that there is "absolutely no reason to buy, sell or use personal fireworks."

"The potential consequences are simply too severe and the patriotic thing to do this Fourth of July is to attend a public fireworks display, or celebrate the Fourth fireworks free," Martinez said in a statement.

In Joplin, Missouri, where a devastating tornado hit on May 22, officials have banned fireworks in an area where debris is being removed because of the amount of combustible material there.

And in Mobile, Alabama, burn bans forced city leaders to move the public fireworks display from Battleship Memorial Park to a barge in Mobile Bay.

Chicago, the nation's third largest city canceled the July 3 fireworks at the Taste of Chicago food festival because the city faces a substantial budget shortfall. But Chicago residents can see fireworks at Navy Pier along Lake Michigan on July 2 and 4.   Continued...

<p>Fireworks explode over the New York City skyline as part of the Independence Day celebration in New York, July 4, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi</p>