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.
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Sales were allowed only in the week leading to Independence Day and the week before New Year's Eve. Fireworks companies say that is not enough to protect the livelihood of retailers.Skip to next paragraph
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"It would be kind of like asking Wal-Mart to pay all their expenses for six months, but, oh by the way, you can't open up any of your stores and you can't sell anything," said Luke Girdley, vice president of Alamo Fireworks, based in San Antonio.
For at least one city, fireworks may be a way to raise funds through high-priced tickets sales. In New York, $200 tickets are being sold to a cordoned off section of a public park along the Hudson River that promises stunning views of the Macy's fireworks show.
Grucci's Butler said this year's shows would be fewer and cost far less than in previous years. Still, each Grucci fireworks show requires eight technicians working up to four days for the setup alone.
"The average spend for fireworks shows now is around $15,500, which is a small budget and people tend to space out the fireworks which makes for a less interesting show," he said.
His company will provide the pyrotechnics for about 80 shows around America on Wednesday, down slightly from last year.
Butler, who has been in the fireworks business since he married Donna Grucci, now president of the fifth-generation company, says despite the economic challenges local governments should not scrimp on tradition.
"Shame on them. It's like taking on Mom and apple pie," he said. "They aren't saving much compared to their overall budget but it makes them look good. This is really the most important day of the year to have fireworks."
Nearly two dozen Colorado communities have canceled their Fourth of July fireworks displays as firefighters battle raging wildfires. Some Colorado towns like Estes Park will postpone fireworks celebrations until the danger clears.
Other communities have banned fireworks displays because of heat and dry conditions. Affected areas include the Tennessee city of Springfield, a dozen communities in Ohio including Kent, Richmond, Newark and Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, and the Indiana towns of Brownsburg, Hartford City, New Palestine, Beech Grove, Greenfield, Kokomo, Auburn and Delphi.
(Additional reporting by Tim Ghianni and Kim Palmer; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Will Dunham)
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