Archive for Thursday, July 3, 2003

Snap, crackle, pop

City bracing itself

July 3, 2003

Although local firefighters and law enforcement officers oversee fireworks use in Eudora each year, this week they'll have special concerns. Because Lawrence has banned fireworks in its city limits, some fear Eudora's leniency with fireworks will draw celebrants -- and carelessness -- to the city.

"What worries me the most is that somebody could come into our community and perhaps find a park or some area here in town where they can light their stuff off and not have any consideration for our town, our community," said Fire Chief Spencer McCabe. "I don't know if we should say there's going to be a swarm of people from Lawrence, (but) they don't care about Eudora. They just want a place to make some noise."

Despite the possibility of added trash and more careless use of fireworks, the Eudora City Council decided last month not to make any changes in local fireworks policies with the idea additional restrictions would unfairly penalize Eudorans. Instead, the Council decided it would monitor fireworks use this year with the idea changes could be made in the future if necessary.

Police Chief Greg Dahlem said the department would have as many officers as possible on hand on the Fourth, and McCabe said the fire department would try to have its three trucks patrolling the city from 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, and from 4 p.m. to midnight Friday. Two trucks Friday would be dedicated to patrolling the public display at Eudora High School, he said.

The purpose of the trucks, he said, was to have firefighters talk with celebrants about fireworks safety and to hand out fliers with safety information.

"We don't want to harass anybody; we don't want to make anybody feel uncomfortable," McCabe said. "We're not policing, but we want to make sure everybody's being safe."

Although a common practice, shooting off fireworks in the streets is illegal -- and dangerous. McCabe said problems included potential damage to property as well as traffic haz ards and debris left in the roadway. Instead, McCabe suggested shooting fireworks in a yard away from buildings and on a flat surface, like a piece of plywood, between fireworks and the grass.

"Traditionally the Fourth of July is the hottest and driest holiday in our state," McCabe said. "We're pretty fortunate with the moisture we've had. We're way above our annual total rainfall, and we hope things will stay like they are right now."

Any firework with a stick -- such as a bottle rocket -- is illegal. Dahlem said such infractions could cost the shooter up to $100.

Moreover, McCabe said celebrants should not shoot fireworks after midnight, and should pick up trash, and most of all, be considerate to neighbors.

Celebrants wanting something else -- or in addition to -- putting on their own display at home can attend the public celebration Friday beginning at 7 p.m., when Rex Burkhardt will begin deejaying. The community band will follow with a performance at 8 p.m., and the fireworks will kick off around dusk.

Seating will be available on the old Eudora High School grounds, 2635 Church St., and those attending are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Parking will be available in the school's parking lot. Eudora Boy Scouts will have concessions for sale.

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