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Shaker Heights Cancels Fireworks in 2013

The event has officially been cancelled next year; city vows to offers alternate Fourth of July "programming."

It's official — Shaker Heights residents will not see a fireworks celebration in their city next year.

"That was not put in the (2013) budget by the administration, regretfully," Mayor Earl Leiken said Monday at the final Shaker Heights City Council meeting of 2012. "There have been problems in maintaining order and dealing with huge numbers of young people who have shown up through social media at the fireworks and who have been disruptive.

"It has generated a deep concern about public safety."

Council considered Police Chief D. Scott Lee's presentation on the last few celebrations and comments from residents at the work session earlier this month and declined to request that fireworks be added to next year's budget. The city paid $31,600 to host the only fireworks gathering on the Fourth this year.

"Last year, we had 98 officers making an all-out effort to try to control the situation, bring order to the situation," Leiken said. "We were unable to do so.

"None of the council members are happy about the cancellation of the fireworks. They all regret the need to cancel them."

Leiken stressed that the event is not cancelled for good, just for 2013. He said the city will offer other "programming" for the holiday next year, though the exact form won't be determined until next year.

Financial Director Bob Baker said the 2013 budget has extra money in the arts and music program. It isn't appropriated for the Fourth of July, but could be next year.

"We will continue on an even greater level to do community events and plan special things on the Fourth of July for families," Leiken said. "We do very much want people to enjoy the holiday and have it continue to be a special day in Shaker Heights."

Mark Zetzer December 18, 2012 at 11:01 PM
This decision is a major disappointment. Raising taxes, fees and fines while cutting services like the 4th of July fireworks is no way to revive our fair city. I suggested to City leaders last week that they at least let a for-profit private contractor run the fireworks show next year and be free to restrict and charge admission to it. I would gladly pay a reasonable sum for guaranteed parking, seating and safety at such an event, and be happy to patronize any vendors and entertainers there as well. This denial is a telling symbol of an administration that has abandoned the principles of liberty that the 4th of July celebrates, and that built America and the beautiful garden suburb within that we call Shaker Heights. Voters will be reminded of this signal failure of our elected officials come next November.
Derek Abbott December 27, 2012 at 11:07 PM
I disagree with Mark's sentiment here. I live in the area surrounding the fireworks. The last 2 years, the streets have been littered with trash. A ton of teenagers have been acting unruly, and I've heard stories of fighting in people's yards. I think the problem is that every other community cancelled their fireworks while we kept ours. This led to a ton of people populating our fireworks celebration. Mark - if you lived in the area of the fireworks, you would understand how untenable the situation was. Shaker just doesn't have enough security to guarantee the safety of the participants or the homeowners. I would favor a scenario of regionalism where other communities rotated the fireworks show, sharing costs and sharing security personnel. I guarantee you, as a homeowner in the area, a private company with no incentive or investment in the community beyond this one-off event would be much worse. While I am in general agreement that we are over-taxed and over-regulated in Shaker, I am not in agreement with Mark on this issue.
Mark Zetzer December 28, 2012 at 01:56 AM
I here you Derek. What I am suggesting is that a private company, in order to make money, would have to restrict access to the fireworks event with temporary fencing, even patrol the surrounding area in order to charge for safe parking. Also, the fireworks show would not necessarily need to be located at the Middle School. Highland Park GC comes to mind (team up with Beachwood?), as does the vacant lot at Van Aken and Farnsleigh, or even Thorton Park. Professional pyrotechnics firms know how to put on a fun and safe show in any kind of venue. What's needed is the event planning to pull it all together (e.g., security, vending), and some folks at LaunchHouse are already considering it as a possible new kind of business to take over where municipalities are failing. It can be done, it just needs to be run by people with a personal self interest in making it work for paying patrons. Government employees get paid the same no matter what happens, so they are the first to throw up their hands and say no. This is how our lives are being diminished on a daily basis while our tax rates go up, and it doesn't have to be this way. There are always solutions if people are rewarded for their efforts!
Derek Abbott December 28, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Mark- They have this already. On Friday nights in summer, the Indians put on fireworks after the game. For $20, you can see the game and stay for the fireworks.
Mark Zetzer December 28, 2012 at 09:43 PM
That is an option, although not ideal since it's so far away. Highland GC would be best.

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