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PRO: Professional public displays are safe, fun

By Sonny Long
July 3, 2011 at 2:03 a.m.

John Svoboda, operator of Alamo Fireworks, stocks the store for Independence Day on Friday morning. The store will be open every day up until Midnight on July 4.

For many cities in the Crossroads area, the show must go on this Fourth of July.

Despite historic drought conditions, Victoria, Cuero, Port O'Connor, Shiner and Gonzales are having fireworks displays in honor of Independence Day.

Although he has no jurisdiction within the city of Victoria, county Fire Marshal Ron Pray thinks a public fireworks display is the best way to celebrate the holiday.

"It's the safest way to enjoy fireworks," Pray said.

Pray said public fireworks displays are safe because of the professionals who put on the shows.

"They are well-equipped to handle the show. They know the capabilities of the fireworks and understand the rules and laws."

"Typically, public shows don't create the kinds of problems you might experience with someone just out in the country on their property shooting off fireworks," said Pray.

O.C. Garza, communications director for the city of Victoria, reiterated many of Pray's points.

"Celebrating our country's freedom with fireworks is a standing tradition in Victoria and across the U.S.A. Like most cities, Victoria would never hold a major fireworks show if we did not feel we could do it safely," Garza said.

"Given the current drought conditions, we have taken extra precautions for this year's show," Garza added. "For starters, we have used Zambelli's Fireworks Company to fire our show for many years. Zambelli's fires the show electronically, the firing site is more than 600 feet from any structure and the firing site layout has been approved by the State Fire Marshal's Office."

As extra precautions, the city will have two fire department brush trucks on hand, one at the firing site and the other in the area ready to respond quickly to any emergency," said Garza.

In Cuero, the city's annual fireworks display will also go on as usual, but City Manager Raymie Zella understands that's a decision each city has to make itself.

"I think every community will have to look at it," Zella said. "In my opinion the decision should be made based on where the fireworks' display will be held."

"Here in Cuero, our fireworks display is shot off of the island out in the middle of the lake in the park. Prevailing southeast wind would carry the fireworks over the water or over the golf course which is watered nightly and daily," said Zella.

Victoria landscaper Barry Meyer said public fireworks shows are fine even under such dry conditions.

"In a controlled environment, they seem to be very safe especially with fire trucks on hand," he said.

Both Garza and Zella think the events are important to their communities.

"Our hope is the Victoria fireworks show will not only provide an evening of good music and patriotic entertainment, but a spectacular and safe fireworks show," Garza said.

Zella agreed.

"These displays in every community give families time to spend together at a family friendly event," said the Cuero city manager. "Fireworks displays are not only enjoyed by the younger kids, but as much by adults also."

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