It may not be every American child’s inalienable right to watch a grand fireworks display on the Fourth of July. But it is a tradition that’s always seemed on par with trick-or-treating on Halloween or exchanging valentines on Feb. 14.
Until now, that is.
A growing number of communities are finding it hard to foot the bill for big fireworks displays, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Locally, volunteers serving on fireworks committees in two communities — Paso Robles and Morro Bay — are stepping down. They’re hoping others will replace them, but if that doesn’t happen soon, fireworks displays could be canceled this year and possibly into the future.
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That would be a shame.
Sure, we can celebrate the Fourth of July with barbecues and parades and band concerts, but without fireworks, where’s the grand finale?
As it is, only a handful of communities — Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Cayucos, Cambria and Pismo Beach — regularly host community fireworks shows.
That’s understandable, given the cost not only of fireworks, but also of providing security, traffic control, portable restrooms and janitorial services. The Paso Robles shows held at Barney Schwartz Park, for example, cost about $65,000.
That’s a significant amount, but not an insurmountable goal, especially if communities start now.
This seems to us an excellent opportunity for businesses in Paso Robles and Morro Bay — restaurants, wineries and other visitor-serving businesses come to mind -— to earn lots of good will by offering donations and perhaps volunteers.
After all, a fireworks display is a great opportunity to attract visitors — just look at Pismo Beach.
But more than that, it’s a chance to come together with friends and with strangers, to celebrate our unique history and heritage.
That’s something to cherish.
More and more, our patriotic holidays are morphing into personal leave days — opportunities to get caught up on housework, to catch a movie or to shop for bargains on mattresses and appliances — rather than a time to reflect on the sacrifices of those who founded and fought for our nation. We can’t let that happen.
If Paso Robles and Morro Bay need to take a year off to regroup, so be it. But please, don’t let this fine tradition fade away without a fight.