DUNEDIN — In a manner of speaking, city officials are thinking about less bang for their bucks when it comes to Fourth of July celebrations.
City commissioners asked their staff at a work session July 9 to explore options for the annual event, such as having a laser show or using fireworks that make less noise than conventional ones.
The discussion stemmed from Commissioner Jeff Gow saying that he was pleased with this year’s event, held July 3 at Highlander Park.
“It was a brand-new event. I thought it was fabulous. Anybody I spoke with echoed those comments. It was great. It seemed to be friendly toward families. There were kids everywhere, and everybody was involved,” Gow said.
He said he liked the laser show included in the event and that there has been an increase in concerns expressed about the effects fireworks have on victims of post-traumatic stress disorder. Gow also mentioned the impact of fireworks’ noise on pets and the environmental concerns stemming from the use of such explosives.
“Certainly, changing from fireworks to laser is not a bad thing,” he said.
Gow suggested that staff investigate whether to continue having that event at Highlander Park in addition to the Fourth of July event at Dunedin Stadium.
Other commissioners expressed similar comments in favor of having laser shows or less-noisy fireworks at their events.
Commissioner Moe Freaney said a former city commissioner, a war veteran, didn’t want to pay for fireworks.
“If you were in a war, why do you want to hear bombs and bursts?” she said.
She also discussed a comment stemming from a Facebook post that the city should crack down on illegal fireworks detonated in neighborhoods.
“Those are the worst things that scare dogs. Those are the worst things that are freaking out everybody. It’s not really the big public shows,” Freaney said.
Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski said city officials should work with the Dunedin Blue Jays because they have frequent fireworks shows in addition to July 4. Having the show at the stadium, she said, benefits the city because the city partners with the Jays on the cost.
She also suggested that that an additional event on Memorial Day or Labor Day be considered.
The Jays might have connections to arrange for having less-noisy fireworks in general and the city’s U.S. Military Veterans Advisory Committee would be more satisfied with that, too, she said.
Perhaps more law enforcement officers can be on duty on July 4 to help control the illegal fireworks shows, Bujalski said.
“I really don’t know what they can do, but it is worth the question to ask,” she said.
In essence, commissioners ended the discussion by giving staff the leeway to look at all the issues discussed.
“From my perspective, I just want to say, for the whole thing, everything is on the table, including what we do now. I think it’s an important thing for them to explore,” Freaney said.
Commissioner Deborah Kynes and Heather Gracy agreed.
“Let’s not micromanage this and look at costs as well,” Gracy said.
Deputy City Manager Doug Hutchens said that he has sufficient direction to move forward.