I love the Fourth of July. As holidays go, it is pretty laid back. You spend the day barbecuing with family and friends, hopefully next to a lake or a pool, and celebrate being an American.
The absolute best part of Independence Day, however, are the fireworks.
I’m not talking about the spinning wheels, fountains and sparklers that many people light in their driveways on the Fourth. Only a professional pyrotechnics show can really do justice to the holiday. The bright and beautiful explosions in the sky are our way of saying “Happy Birthday, America!” in the loudest, most colorful way possible.
However, this loud and proud display of patriotism is currently under attack.
The Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation sued San Diego last year to force a review of a fireworks show at La Jolla Cove, in San Diego County, under the California Environmental Quality Act. Last week, Superior Court Judge Linda Quinn ruled that Fourth of July fireworks shows — and tens of thousands of other festivities — are subject to rigorous environmental reviews.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders has called the ruling "ludicrous" and an example of government regulation run amok. He and other city officials told local media the ruling may have consequences not only to San Diego’s tourism industry and nonprofit organizations, but also to cities throughout California and even nationwide.
The San Diego City Council implored the judge to put a hold on the ruling — in part to save the upcoming Independence Day celebrations — but also to give city attorneys a chance to respond to such a far-reaching ruling.
According to the Associated Press, Marco Gonzalez, an attorney for the Encinitas-based environmental group, told the judge Thursday that he had no objections to putting the ruling on hold for all events except the La Jolla Cove fireworks show, a 27-year-old oceanfront display that draws about 20,000 spectators. His lawsuit contends that the hundreds of explosives dump chemicals in the water and threaten seals, birds and other wildlife.
I’m all for keeping wildlife safe, but fireworks shows happen once a year. I would think that the recent upheaval in oceanic weather patterns is a bigger threat to La Jolla Cove’s animal residents than a few loud booms and some ash.
Professional pyrotechnic shows are also a safe alternative to watching an inebriated uncle show the kids how much fun it is to set off explosives right next to the house.
Without large fireworks shows, there will be many more house fires and third-degree burns emergency personnel will have to deal with every Fourth of July.
I don’t think an exception for the Fourth of July is too much to ask. This country needs to celebrate whatever it can right now. A free, family-friendly fireworks show could be the only bright spot in many families’ summer — families who have had to deal with layoffs, foreclosures and dwindling resources of government and nonprofit agencies.
This spirit of compromise for the emotional well-being of the American public can also be seen on New Year’s Eve.
The annual New Year’s Eve party in New York City’s Time Square is a terrorist’s target dream come true. Thousands of civilians concentrated in one place for hours — with live media coverage! New York’s public safety officials are not stupid. They know how much of a risk it is to continue holding the biggest New Year’s Eve party in the country. But they also know that America needs its traditions.
New Year’s Eve without the ball dropping in Times Square amid cold, but excited tourists, would not be the same. The Fourth of July without fireworks would be just as wrong.
Please Judge Quinn, save the fireworks!
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.