Fireworks: At what cost?

Magicvalley.com opinion
2011-06-17T06:45:00Z 2011-06-17T07:02:21Z Fireworks: At what cost? Twin Falls Times-News
June 17, 2011 6:45 am

Ooh aah. Ooh aah. Repeat as necessary. And then we all go to sleep, the sun comes up the next morning and we all go back to work on Tuesday, July 5, with little lingering benefit from the previous day’s aerial pyrotechnics.

For the second year in a row the subject of fireworks has created — well, fireworks. This year the controversy isn’t about changing the date for the fireworks, it’s about whether or not we’ll have the money to pay for them. Despite the best efforts of Ruth Pierce and her citizens’ committee, the $35,000 needed to fund the bigger, better combined Jerome-Twin Falls fireworks has not materialized. Perhaps it will; perhaps it won’t. We think that it shouldn’t.

Fireworks appear to be one of those things that become linked over time with patriotism. And because by now we’ve all seen a photo of Independence Hall at night silhouetted against vibrant multi-colored fireworks, we are tempted to believe that the tradition started on July 4, 1776. It didn’t. Fireworks were invented in China sometime in the seventh century to ward off evil spirits. We hope that we’ve moved beyond this.

Fireworks are nice, but they’re hardly a necessity. And while the “hard” cost of $35,000 does not seem exorbitant, the opportunity cost associated with it may be. Simply stated, opportunity cost reflects what the $35,000 in individual, business and municipal funds could have been used for if they weren’t paying for a 30-minute, once-a-year fireworks show.

Those who run area non-profits could offer a wide array of suggestions on how to spend that money. Although economists continue to tell us that the Great Recession has been over for nearly two years, organizations that rely on charitable donations would beg to differ. As the recovery wanes, so do contributions, and it’s a near certainty that individual and business donations to expanded fireworks will be made in lieu of other charitable donations rather than in addition.

What do we suggest?

Stop where we’re at and realize that regionalizing fireworks between Jerome and Twin Falls can preserve a July 4 show but not expand it. Take the $20,000 already raised and buy the best show that that $20,000 will get us. And stop at that. There is and continues to be incredible need throughout south-central Idaho. An expanded fireworks extravaganza is not among them

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(3) Comments

  1. rbrtgroves
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    rbrtgroves - June 24, 2011 1:23 pm
    Here is what I think was missed with this article. Should the City of Twin Falls (organization not population) be spending $25,000 on Fireworks? Absolutely not. Should the City of Jerome (organization not population) spend $8,000 on Fireworks? Absolutely not. The solution for this is the Citizens Group. Combining the two towns this year took the total fundraising to $35,000. Now granted, the City of Twin Falls (organization) did put in $8,000 or so fee-based & budgeted funds (of which they are phasing out of each year).

    Now, all during this fundraising season we as a group have been receiving change, $1, $10, $50, $1000, etc in donations from individuals, groups, and businesses. As a community we should easily be able to raise the funds necessary for the endeavor; even an OOOh and AAAh show.

    My advice to other organizations looking to do something for the community whether religious, non-profit, or for-profit: Be smart. Don't expect the same results as years past. Small donations from hundreds or thousands add up.

    Now down to the really silly part. If I put $5 into the fireworks fund, what am I sacrificing?: The 2 for $5 chips at Walmart? Coffee for one or two days? Less than three options for lunch at any restaurant? One drink at any bar in the valley? The list really goes on and on and on.

    The Magic Valley Citizens for the 4th of July group (of which I am a part) did not ask me to give them $35,000 for fireworks. They asked for anything I could give and I have not heard them condemn one person for not giving anything. If one entity had come in with $35,000 that would have been a travesty because that could certainly be used for something else. My $5 though, they can have it! Otherwise, I'm going to spend it on my own little OOOh and AAAh that has nothing to do with the community or any semblance of patriotism but simply me.

    Rbrt Groves
    Jerome Events Committee
    & Magic Valley Citizens' 4th of July
  2. Suni
    Report Abuse
    Suni - June 21, 2011 10:31 am
    I would suggest that the college campus, maybe in the same area that they hold their Farmer's Market, allow local vendors to set up for a day of festivities. Make the day longer, with music and activities. Charge the vendors an entrance fee. It will be worth their while to pay it if there is a full day of festivities. Have the college clubs set up booths for the kids. Have a raffle where half of the pot goes to the winner and half goes to the fireworks fund. Buhl has a three day event for the 4th. We have 30 minutes of colorful lights. We all love the fireworks, but it's got to be more than that. Let it be a day where the community comes together with pride and shows their spirit.
  3. MagicValleyReader
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    MagicValleyReader - June 17, 2011 1:29 pm
    This is a wonderful letter. I've been thinking the same thing since they started "begging" on television. There is a much better use for donated funds than 30 minutes of Ooohs, and Aaahs. I live very close to the CSI, and the noise is nothing more than obnoxious. I was, and am still hoping they don't get enough donations to have a fireworks show of any size. Not just this year, but forever.

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