TEXAS VIEW: Fireworks fly over change in plans for Abilene holiday show

THE POINT: Let’s stop complaining and have a way better Fourth of July than we did a year ago.

We had an early fireworks show this year.

Last Thursday, reaction was set off by news that the WesTex Connect show planned for July 3 was off. Or was it?

Maybe delayed? To when? Why?

Or was that the “Freedom Festival Fireworks” show? That event name popped up. There is no such thing.

Confusion sparked reaction. Abilene, famous for once getting worked up for getting in bed with Myrtle, suddenly had its own Fireworksgate.

For some reason, having a fireworks show in Abilene is hard. We are community-minded on many things, but setting off fireworks sets off … fireworks.

Don’t mess with our fireworks.

Residents were mad one year when we didn’t have a show at all. Heck, we had to drive all the way to Tye, about eight miles west of downtown Abilene, to see one. There were plenty in other area towns. But we focused on why our big city couldn’t have a show.

It’s as if a fireworks show, and now related events, comprise the 11th amendment to the Bill of Rights. Or is guaranteed by the city charter.

It’s not. It’s a lot of work by a lot of people. It’s hugely expensive. It doesn’t happen without teamwork and money.

It depends on the weather, too.

Another year, the wind rose in the evening and city officials canceled the show. Big disappointment for many, of course. And the city was hammered for its decision. The current contract with the city allows a show to be staged over several days, in case there is a weather concern.

We haven’t had a dry year, but shooting fireworks has been banned in the county during drought. So there’s that.

From what we gathered last Thursday, a complete shipment of fireworks had not made it to Abilene. The challenge became getting it here for July 3.

One consideration would be regulations for transportation. They are hazardous materials.

It takes, we’re told, five to seven days to set up the show safely and to do it right. You just don’t open boxes, light fuses at 10 p.m. and hope it works.

Our show is impressive. This year’s show was/is intended to pop the top off previous ones.

Despite a pandemic, we had a show last year. We persevere, and that’s the goal this year. At this point, the effort is being made to launch a show, even if it’s delayed.

By now, having survived 2020 and seeing how some issues have lingered in 2021, a foul-up on fireworks should not faze us. Have all your packages arrived on time, with the right order? Likely not.

As of last Friday, a July 5 date seemed to be the most likely. The fireworks needed to arrive by Tuesday to “build it out,” said Richard Kemp, speaking for the WesTex Connect Fireworks Spectacular.

Radio and TV ads were pulled last Thursday, lighting the fuse to confuse. What’s going on? Various stories swirled.

Before an official announcement of any new plans, the Freedom Festival folks set out a disclaimer that its event was not connected to the fireworks show. Residents have wondered, isn’t this all one thing?

It’s not. Yet it is. Whatever is planned locally for the Fourth, a fireworks show is the highlight. Freedom Festival events are timed to end so people could watch the fireworks.

The idea of no fireworks show quickly riled up folks. Creating Fireworksgate.

Let’s break it down and get ready for a happy Fourth.

The fireworks show looks to be moved back because of a situation out of local control.

Regardless, the Abilene Freedom Festival, which is not connected to the WesTex fireworks presentation, goes on as planned. There is no festival fireworks show after their concert July 4.

Having a free fireworks show – you can view it from many places without paying a cent – and Fourth of July events is not our right. It’s a privilege, and we should thank, and support those who organize our fun.

Those who organize 4th of July events could work better together.

If all this puts you off, there are options. Neighborhood parades Saturday morning. Abilene Community Band concert, back after missing a year, Sunday evening.

We have the freedom to gripe. But we also have the freedom to zip it.

Let’s do that, and have a way better Fourth of July than we did a year ago.

Abilene Reporter-News