Joint fireworks display makes sense
July 4 celebrations in the U.S. are customarily capped off with fireworks to celebrate the nation's independence from Britain more than 200 years ago.
Sometimes the displays are sparklers and firecrackers in the back yard, but many communities offer a central location where residents can gather to view a spectacular show.
In Haywood this year, area residents and visitors have three places to go to see a community fireworks display. When dark descends Thursday, fireworks will shower above Lake Junaluska, the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds and the Canton recreation park.
The cost of such efforts is not cheap. Lake Junaluska will be spending about $20,000 for the fireworks, the professionals that discharge them and the accompanying security and traffic control. Maggie Valley taxpayers are ponying up $10,000 for fireworks only, and another $8,000 or so for the entertainment that precedes it.
In Canton,Champion Credit Union is picking up the cost of fireworks, while Mayor Mike Ray is providing watermelon for all to accompany entertainment and food booths offered at the park.
While it is great there are planned festivities around the county, the cost of fireworks has got to be a source of angst for those paying the bill.
At it celebrates it 100th anniversary, Lake Junaluska has entered a new era as an independent conference and retreat center since funding from the Methodist umbrella groups has been phased out. Next year lake officials have said fireworks will need to be sponsored if they are to continue.
Several years ago, Maggie Valley taxpayers spent more than $40,000 one year for a multi-day event. Though this year's event is cut back from that level, it is still a chunk of change for taxpayers to absorb.
There are efficiencies to be gained by having a single fireworks in the county on July 4. Each community could have its own gathering earlier in the evening, and then gravitate to a central location where a more spectacular fireworks display could be put on. While there are merits to using a central location, there could be an arrangement where the fireworks display location is rotated annually.
The end result would not only be more cost effective, but would likely provide a better show for all residents and visitors.