July 4 fireworks show moving to Victoria Mall area


June 24, 2010 at 1:24 a.m.

Northcrest resident Marvin Lockhart said he won't let the change of location for Victoria's annual July 4 fireworks show keep him from attending the event again this year.

But he questioned whether the new location will create more of a fire hazard from falling embers.

"Over at the other place, those are all mowed fields with very few houses around," he said. "Over here, you have unmown fields with brush and houses."

The fireworks show, which has been at the community center for at least 25 years, is being moved to the Victoria Mall area.

The fireworks will be set off at the Ethel Lee Tracy Park, but the park won't be open to the public. Onlookers are being asked to watch the event from the mall parking lot.

Doug Cochran, Victoria's director of parks and recreation, agreed there is a possibility of embers causing a grass or brush fire. But the fire department will be on location if a fire erupts, he said.

He said the event would likely be postponed if there were concerns about the wind carrying embers to houses and businesses in the area.

Valencia Bland with Hearthstone of Victoria, which is near the park, said she personally has no concerns about the show. She said it might be good for the residents there.

"I would think it would depend on how loud it would be," she said. "Honestly, I would think they would probably enjoy watching the fireworks."

The event was moved to the Victoria Mall for better security, lighting and to protect the $12 million Youth Sports Complex.

"The community center grounds served us well for years, but with the new Youth Sports Complex now open next door we needed a new location," Cochran said. "The Youth Sports Complex is in the fireworks fall zone and the canvas shading and roofing are at risk from falling fireworks."

Cochran said the mall has 3,400 paved parking spaces and it is easier to manage traffic flow into and out of the area. It is safer, drier and the traffic can arrive and depart easier than at the community center grounds, he said.

Sgt. Julian Huerta of the Victoria Police Department said there will be 10 to 12 officers working the event and helping direct traffic afterward.

"We've never had it up there, so it's going to be interesting," Huerta said, referring to the traffic.

The lighting at the mall might pose a minor problem, Cochran said. But the lights have to be left on for security and safety.

The 2010 Miller Lite Blast Off is free of charge to the public and co-sponsored by Hartman Distributing Co. of Victoria, the Victoria Mall and the Victoria Parks and Recreation Department.

Jay Soule with Hartman said the concert with Honeybrowne, an Austin country/rock band, and Rhythm of the Road from Victoria will begin at 6 p.m.

The fireworks show will start about 9:30 p.m. and will last about 30 minutes.

The mall parking lot will likely reflect some of the summer heat for those arriving early and Cochran urged people to be prepared.

"Most people start getting there about 7:30 or 8 o'clock," he said. "So, it's cooling down a little bit and it's not the deep heat of the day."

But he said people can bring umbrellas or something similar to protect them from the sun. Onlookers can also bring ice chests with their own beverages, but ice chests will be prohibited in the area fenced off for the bands.

Soule said he is also expecting about 20 vendors that provide everything from snow cones and barbecue sandwiches to jewelry and vacation packages.

The Victoria East High School cheerleaders will do face painting and the military will have equipment displays.

The band and food vendors will be set up in the JCPenney parking area at the north side of the mall parking lot.

Stores in the mall will also have a chance to set up booths outdoors, although Soule said he didn't yet have a list of those that would take advantage of the offer.



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