Archive for Thursday, June 28, 2001

Fireworks, music to kick off celebration

June 28, 2001

Wednesday evening will leave Eudorans seeing stars and stripes when fireworks explode in the sky and the community band plays at Eudora High School for Fourth of July festivities.

Fireworks enthusiasts and Independence Day revelers can come by the carload to the high school's parking lot, armed with blankets and lawn chairs, and money for concessions. Although the display begins at dusk, the best seats will be snatched up first, Diana Beebe, recreation director, said.

Beebe said she's heard that Eudora usually has a good turnout, and few other cities around have similar displays.

"There used to be a lot more," she said. "Lawrence used to have a big one, down at (Memorial) Stadium. I used to have to water the synthetic turn for a week so it would be soaked."

The pyrotechnics come in part courtesy of Jim Hoover, who has been shooting off the razzle-dazzle displays as long as the city has been involved.

"We were doing it ourselves, and then the city wanted us to do it," Hoover said.

Preparations for the show begin the night before.

"They tell me where I'm going to shoot them off," he said. "When I get there, there's no one there. When I leave, there's no one there."

Before reclining on blankets to watch the overhead show, some celebrators might opt to put on their own show at home. Several tents set up around Eudora will sell fireworks starting Monday.

In Douglas County, fireworks must be purchased and shot off between July 2 and July 4.

Driveway pyrotechnics need to keep safety precautions in mind as they're lighting snakes and blasting black cats.

With fireworks sold year-round 35 miles away in Missouri, is the temptation too great to light them off anytime?

"I hear things every now and then," Fire Chief Spencer McCabe said. "That could be somebody's leftovers. There's really no way to tell."

According to the Kansas SAFE Kids Coalition, emergency rooms treat more than 3,000 children ages 14 and younger for fireworks-related injuries. Moreover, sparklers may be considered the safest firework, but they join firecrackers and rockets to cause the most injuries requiring emergency-room assistance.

"People have discovered how to do things with sparklers that aren't very smart," McCabe said.

Yet in the seven years he's worked for the fire department and EMS, McCabe said he

hadn't seen any fireworks-related injuries.

That doesn't mean they should ignore laws governing the use of fireworks, though.

The county allows class-C fireworks, the ones that wheeze and squeal with minimal flame (think Roman candles), and class-A fireworks like smoke bombs and sparklers.

To see class-B fireworks, fireworks-lovers will have to go to the city celebration at the high school. Only certified pyrotechnics can get near the big guns.

The ever-popular bottle rockets are illegal, too. To make it easy, remember that any firework mounted on a stick or a wire is illegal, McCabe said.

"We're not out and about like the police officers are," he said. "If I see somebody shooting off bottle rockets, we'll do what it takes to make sure they get confiscated."

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