Thursday, July 2, 2009

Economy snuffs some Georgia fireworks shows

By Alyse Knorr
Gwinnett Glows, Duluth event canceled

The economic slowdown has left many Georgia governments struggling to find bucks for their bang this Fourth of July.

For the first time in more than 20 years, Gwinnett County has had to cancel its Gwinnett Glows Fourth of July fireworks celebration.

Gwinnett County spokeswoman Heather Sawyer said officials last fall began to anticipate shortfalls in the county budget that made the celebration too costly to put on.

Sawyer said the event usually costs about $200,000, with about $85,000 coming from corporate sponsorships and the county paying the rest.

Sawyer said she does not expect Gwinnett to put on the pyrotechnic display next year, either.

“I think people are saddened by it, but I think for the most part folks have been understanding,” Sawyer said. “As many people as would have liked to see a nice fireworks show, if we did it there would probably be just as many people who would say that it’s not a good way to spend our money.”

Marcia Hampton, director of the Douglasville Community and Downtown Services Department, said the city was also planning to cancel its annual fireworks display until it found two last-minute sponsors of Saturday’s show.

Hampton said Greystone Power Corp. and Gas South contributed $5,000 each for Douglasville’s fireworks show, which has taken place for more than 20 years.

“A lot of people stay around the house during major holidays, and with the downturn in the economy, we think a lot of folks will be even more inclined to stay around the home, so it was very important to us to go out and find sponsorships,” said Tracie Ivey, Douglasville Parks and Recreation director.

Duluth City Clerk Teresa Lynn said the poor economy made officials question whether or not to have the celebration this year. The city decided to put it on when the bands performing at this year’s event — the Army Ground Forces Band, Loose Cannons and the Woody’s — volunteered to play for free.

Lynn said city staff members will collect donations from the public to help pay the $9,000 to $10,000 cost of Duluth’s fireworks display on Friday.

Elsewhere around the state, two traditional fireworks displays in Tift County have been canceled due to the economy: an annual show at the Georgia Agrirama and a show in Omega sponsored by Patrick Farms.

Fireworks displays in Peachtree City, Roswell, Stone Mountain Park, Acworth, Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta and Alpharetta will go on. Marietta’s event will be combined with a celebration for the city’s 175th anniversary.


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