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