Independence Day Organizers Calling It Quits

The Crowd Watches the Fireworks
Charlottevillians watch a red firework explode overhead in McIntire Park on July 4, 2007.

Seven years ago the organization who had long run the annual Independence Day celebration abruptly threw in the towel. Ray Cadell rounded up a bunch of local business owners and put together the big annual celebration with only a few weeks’ notice. The then-aptly-named Save the Fireworks Committee has been running the show every year since, despite their hope that they’d only have to do it that one year. Committee chairman Dave Phillips says that this July’s scaled-back event will be their last, Bryan McKenzie writes in the Daily Progress this afternoon. They cite a lousy economy, which makes it tough to raise money, but it also makes it tough to justify spending that money on frivolity when there are so many more needs that are more urgent.

A lot of people think of a July 4 celebration as something that “they” do—the state, the city, the county, somebody. But “they” is actually us. It’s a thankless, difficult, money-losing task. Here’s hoping a combination of local grant-making organizations and a local community organization can start planning now to put together a 2010 event and lay the groundwork for a sustainable event that will take place annually for decades to come.

06/04 Update: In an updated article today, McKenzie points out that the Charlottesville Downtown Foundation ran the event in 2003, and that it was the Jaycees that had run the event for so many years.

30 thoughts on “Independence Day Organizers Calling It Quits”

  1. I’d just as soon they stop it. I’ve never thought that simulating a war by detonating high explosives is an appropriate way to celebrate anything. It pollutes, costs money, occasionally causes harm to people, and causes a lot of harm to animals for many miles around.

  2. Wow, Baron, I didn’t know anyone else felt like I did. I always think I’m SUPPOSED to like fireworks, but mostly they’re too loud and almost always a boring waste of time.

    4th of July fireworks aren’t even at the top of my list of ones to get rid of. At least I expect fireworks on the 4th. It’s the unpredictable Homecoming football game fireworks or the just-some-day-during-the-Dogwood-festival-that-we-felt-like-having-fireworks fireworks that I wish could be banned. My house backs up to Meadow Creek a little ways, but not far enough, away from Cville HS and McIntire park. Two or three times a year, it seems like, we’ll have just gotten the kids to sleep when the bombing starts.

    How about the folks who organize the fireworks for New Years Eve, and the folks who organize the Dogwood Festival fireworks, and the football teams’ fireworks all get together and agree that they will all contribute to ONE good show on the 4th and just like shoot off some roman candles any other time they feel like setting something on fire?

  3. Wow. You 2 guys need to go bump uglies somewhere and discuss this further. One of the reasons fireworks are shot off are for celebrations, ie Our flag was still up after taking an incredible barrage by the British and we did not quit.
    I live off Rugby and look forward to the 1% of the year when they set off fireworks. My dogs don’t like it anymore than you do but we turn on the music for them and they relax. Which is what you should do and try to enjoy life instead of banning things. Our neighborhood gathers at Walker and it’s a nice time.

  4. gr. Gt rd f frwrks wthn th cty lmts ll tgthr. dn’t nd my wndws rttlng, nghbrhd dgs gng nts bcs f frwrks dsply. dn’t gr tht th mny svd shld g t chrts, .. cncr rsrch, r t cmbt thr scl lls tc., tc. Cncr s jst n f ntrs wys f wdng t th ppltn. Thr s t mch mny bng pt n cncr rsrch frm thr srcs thn hvng t s frwrks mny. s mttr f fct thnk w shld ll stp dntng t ny chrts fr n yr, r lngr, nd s wht hppns.

  5. Don’t forget fireworks this Saturday evening, over the Rotunda, as part of the Reunion festivities.

  6. It’s true that the 4th celebration/fireworks display isn’t an entirely rational way to celebrate the nation’s independence. But I see that event, along with the Dogwood Festival, as among the few public/civic events in this area that draws a crowd composed of almost all groups within the area. I see upper-middle income and lower-income families, I see kids and old people, and everyone seems to be having fun. People I know look forward to it, their kids look forward to it. Baron’s points about pollution, potential harm, etc. are all valid, but that’s true to a degree of any public gathering, and I think in general we try to strike a balance between total political correctness and recognizing community traditions.

    Note that I’m not saying area residents are owed any kind of a celebration, but just that I think there’s a community upside to the celebration.

  7. That’s certainly true of our local fireworks! You can take the biggest baddest German Shepherd in town, and they are reduced to little sniveling cowards once the fireworks start. Wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if the community cancelled the fireworks and took the money to purchase the poice department a couple of new cars with it each year.

  8. Wow, what a bunch of 4th of July Grinches. Just play a fireworks DVD on TV instead, right? Too bad Jogger got “disemvoweled”. I love a good rant.

  9. RE:disemvoweled

    Yeah, was that his own doing or did the Waldo decide it was pointless/over the line?

  10. Waldo, for someone who doesn’t know me or for that matter anything about me, you presume to know a lot about me. If I blog somethiing it is not to get a rise out of the bloggers, but it is my opinion. Let others take it or leave it, and respond as they might, BUT diemvoweling is very childish and immature on your part.

  11. Its his house. If you dont like the rules please close the url quietly behind you.

  12. Let others take it or leave it, and respond as they might, BUT diemvoweling is very childish and immature on your part.

    You declare, out of the blue, that people with cancer deserve to die, and I’m “immature”?

    If you don’t like it, hit the bricks. You’ve behaved like an jackass here for years. I’ve been enormously patient with you, and I’m under no legal, moral, or practical obligation to let you continue to be a jackass on my dime.

  13. Waldo, you need to go back and read my original blog. I said no such thing that “people with cancer deserve to die”, and yes you are VERY IMMATURE for any number of reasons. Not the least of which is not giving folks on the blog a chance to read and respond to my comments either positively or negatively, are you afraid to let others read and respond to my blogs?
    Secondly, I have not blogged here for “years”. Another incorrect Waldoism. I have been bloging here for at most a year not years as you state.
    Thirdly, you think everone on this blog has to think like you, respond as you would and in general just be a Waldo clone.

  14. I said no such thing that “people with cancer deserve to die”

    In a discussion about fireworks you declared, out of the blue: “Cancer is just one of nature’s ways of weeding out the population.” As somebody who has lost family and friends to cancer, let me offer this rebuttal: Fuck you.

    I have been bloging here for at most a year not years as you state.

    Your inauspicious beginning, in November 2007: “Always leave it to some african american black to throw down the race card. This discussion is about wasting tax payers money not racism.”

    you think everone on this blog has to think like you, respond as you would and in general just be a Waldo clone.

    Oh, Lord, not this again. Let me just dig out an old chestnut from April 2008:

    Jogger, you’re a troll. You post things that you don’t actually believe — frequently lying openly — simply for the purpose of getting a rise out of people. You are, in short, an ass. Whether I agree or disagree with you is irrelevant. People post things on every day that I strongly disagree with. The difference is that they don’t behave like asses.

    So, sure, you can keep posting here. But you lose your vowels. Don’t like it? Start a blog. Use another discussion forum. Go away. I don’t care what you do. But I’m not obliged to host your asinine comments anymore than you’re obliged to let me post stupid notes on your refrigerator.

    We get it, Jogger: you hate everybody, you despise Charlottesville, your life is miserable, and you want everybody to be miserable with you. But I’m just about out of patience for you being my problem.

    This is your long-awaited strike 2. One more and you’re banned. Just give me a reason. Pretty please?

  15. I was going to say something to jogger, but it’s already been said.

    Waldo, my deepest sympathies for your loss.

  16. Jogger,

    I’m not even close to being a Waldo clone. We don’t even have the same views on politics. He’s far nicer and infinitely more diplomatic than I have any desire to be. He’s still somewhat idealistic while I’m a hopeless cynic and I know he wouldn’t even think of writing things I’m perfectly comfortable ranting on about, yet he suffers my lot with nary a complaint.

    It ought to be obvious to anybody who regularly reads cvilllenews that a great diversity of opinions and approaches to expressing them are tolerated here in general. A certain local chicken farmer who was dragging Mr. J through the court system was even given pretty free rein to post as he liked. You found the limit of that tolerance, and I have to agree with Mr. J that he gets to determine where that limits is as the one who funds, maintains, and put his name at the top of this thing.

    Now that you know where the limits are, back off a bit, and please stop whining about immaturity in others when you clearly suffer from it yourself. If you want to be provocative, provoke the intelligence of the people who visit Waldo’ blog. Practice at home first until you get the hang of it.

    And, on a technical point, Waldo is blogging. We are commenting. By virtue of that, he gets to act the despot if he chooses. It is very simple for you to do the same if you would like. Googleing “start my blog” turns up 354,000,000 hits. That ought to be enough to get you going.

  17. Waldo, I would like an apology from you and also to the other bloggers on this newsgroup for your vulgar use of F.U. towards me. You may draw the line in the sand wherever you like but F.U. crosses all lines in a public blog.

  18. Excellent strategy: if you don’t like or can’t argue against the content of what has been said, then by all means switch the conversation to how it was said. Well done.

  19. If Waldo were to apologize, I think most of the other posters (we’re not “bloggers” unless we have our own blogs) would tell him to fuck off.

  20. in a nice, loving way, i mean. because we don’t need him to apologize. that’s what i meant.

  21. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but a little civility goes along way. Kindness seems to be an under appreciated virtue. I’m guilty of not always following this advise but I’m trying, and today is a new day.

  22. ok, back to the fireworks. or lack thereof. jeff has the right idea – who organizes the new year’s show (first night VA?) and could they combine forces/funds with the current folks to make something short and sweet happen both nights? personally, i would much rather watch a quick show in july then a lengthy one in january.

  23. I just hope folks don’t start shooting off more of their own fireworks. I know it’s against the law in the city, but just open your window and listen on the 4th night. A lot of folks do it anyway. I used to have this neighbor who just didn’t give a damn about his neighbors and would shoot off all kinds of ordinance. And if you complained, then guess what? You were the a – – hole deserving his wrath. Unbelievable!

  24. so, who was in charge of the fireworks on the year when they did it on July 3rd instead? that was the dumbest thing in the world.

    I, for one, love a good fireworks display. It’s a fun, relatively safe, usually legal psychedelic experience for folks of all ages.

    I remember two summers ago, walking over to that huge hill by the McEntire golf course, sharing a covert bottle of champagne and watching the fireworks lying upside-down while the acoustics provided by the trees at the bottom of the hill caused a thrillingly disconcerting echo — it was like every explosion was whooshing back and forth over you from both directions at once. pretty nice.

  25. Just a comment or two about the fireworks in past years. I moved to Charlottesville in June 1971 and away from there in July 2006. My kids essentially grew up in the area. We attended several of the fireworks events and enjoyed them very much. At other times we only heard them or saw them from a distance.

    However, one special time for them to suddenly start was on April 16, 1991. My family was visiting at the UVA hospital. My wife was in her final moments of her life due to cancer. She died about 8:30 PM. My kids and I later stepped out into a waiting room and I did not realize that that night was fireworks night. Suddenly, at 9PM, through the windows came a celebration of light and sound that moved my soul. Of course the two events were not really tied together, but in my heart I knew it was the celebration for my wife going home to her permanent rest and a new place.

    That event still makes me remember that day in a more positive way. Having served in the Air Force, and simply as an American I do understand the reason for some communities doing fireworks on the 4th of July. That April night’s fireworks were for the Dogwood celebration. I do not disagree with either fireworks displays.

    Back home in Missouri now.


  26. Waldo, I would like an apology from you and also to the other bloggers on this newsgroup for your vulgar use of F.U. towards me. You may draw the line in the sand wherever you like but F.U. crosses all lines in a public blog.

    And I’d like a pony.

    Let’s see whose wish comes true first.

  27. I like fireworks, so there. And I too would like a pony. And while we’re at it, a really pretty sports car.

    I don’t know if we really need to combine efforts for fireworks events though. They’re separate events happening on different dates, so it seems a bit artificial and silly. And I definitely wouldn’t try to limit certain types of community celebrations to just once a year. Very silly. The more we can get communities together, the better off we are in my opinion.

    And the argument that we shouldn’t do something because some dogs don’t like it is the most lame thing I’ve ever heard. That’s even worse than all those arguments that certain things in movies on the web shouldn’t be allowed because we have to think of the kids.

  28. Joe – thanks for sharing that – that is a wonderful bit of Synchronicity. Life can be magical.

    Waldo, you’re entirely justified, but I hope you don’t let the troll ruin your day…just being PO’ed takes it’s toll.

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