Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

What's the 4th of July without fireworks?

Wildfires, dry weather and tight budgets have put a damper on fireworks in some communities this Independence Day.

By Mathew MurphyReuters / July 3, 2012

Fireworks light up the sky over the United States Capitol dome and the Washington Monument as the U.S. celebrates its Independence Day in Washington in this file photo. One of America's top fireworks firms said the industry, still suffering amid the nation's continued economic slump, is experiencing its toughest time since the Vietnam War.

REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang/Files



As millions of Americans celebrate Independence Day on Wednesday, there are some whose holiday won't be going off with a bang.

Skip to next paragraph

One of America's top fireworks firms said the industry, still suffering due to the nation's economic woes, is experiencing its toughest times since the Vietnam War era when the country was divided over such flashy displays of patriotism.

"What we are seeing now in the fireworks industry is equivalent to what happened in the '70s," said Philip Butler, vice president of Fireworks by Grucci, based in New York.

"At that time, unfortunately, people were tending more to burn the flag than to wave it. Fireworks suffered until 1976 when we celebrated the bicentennial and then they came back considerably," he said.

About $217 million will be spent on an estimated 14,000 Fourth of July fireworks displays across America, a Grucci spokesman said. But 70 percent of those shows will be at private or corporate events in premier locations like the Hamptons, Malibu, Lake Tahoe and the Jersey Shore, according to Grucci.

Tight local budgets - as well as wildfire threats - have forced at least 100 communities from Tanglewood Park, North Carolina, to Half Moon Bay, California, to forego the traditional Fourth of July razzle dazzle.

Some localities that are on high fire alert due to heat and dry conditions have banned fireworks displays. Other fireworks shows were canceled amid lingering power outages from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic region caused by fierce storms spawned by record heat.

In Malden, Massachusetts, there will be no fireworks for the first time in years after the Malden Airport Board decided the money could be better spent elsewhere.

"It was really becoming a burden on the community soliciting for fireworks when so many other good causes were also soliciting for their support," said airport manager Barb Crayne.

A $1 million hole in the Lynwood City Council's budget caused the California town to end its tradition of Fourth of July fireworks. Its Candy Cane Lane Parade and Winter Wonderland Christmas events have also been axed.

Sales in Texas

A rare spot of good news for fireworks retailers comes from Texas. Two-thirds of the 254 counties in Texas approved the sale of fireworks to the public after eliminating last year's ban put in place because of fire concerns amid a record drought.

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer