An annual tradition for more than 75 years, the American Legion fireworks display has been canceled.
Because of dry conditions in the area, this year’s fireworks display will not take place. The July 4 show was first rescheduled to July 14, then postponed again to Labor Day weekend.
“This was our last chance to have a fireworks program,” said Dave Anderson, Post 218 commander, adding that the state hasn’t seen enough rain to get out of a drought. “Weather and safety wise, it’s just impossible to have a good show that is a crowd pleaser.”
Anderson said the Legion fireworks committee met with several city officials, including representatives from the police and fire departments, and the parks and recreation department.
“I really feel like I had my breath taken away, and I think the rest of us on the committee feel the same way,” he said. “But sometimes you have to make a decision that not everyone will like. We had to make that decision.”
Anderson said the Legion could water down the park and tree areas, but even taking those steps doesn’t take into account the wind and where it could carry an ash and start a fire.
“Other communities (have taken) the risk and we’re just not going to take it,” he said. “I know we have the insurance to cover us, but $2 million, how far will that go if we have a wildfire?”
Anderson said he and the committee are more than disappointed that the decision had to be made. The show has never been canceled that Anderson knows of.
“Down deep in my heart, I feel like we’ve let the public down in not being able to do it,” he said. “I just apologize for assuming we would have conditions conducive to having a fireworks program.”
In addition to being tradition for the Washington area, the fireworks program also is a major fundraiser for the Legion baseball team. Each year, the team sells concessions and collects donations during the fireworks show to help fund the baseball season.
“We’ll find ways to make up for the deficiency,” Anderson said.
Those who contributed to this year’s show will have the option of receiving a refund. Letters will be sent out in the next week or two to contributors, Anderson said.
“We don’t want our contributors to feel like we’re going to keep their money and come back at them next year,” he said. “We feel it’s only fair they make the decision as to whether they want the refund or if they want us to keep the money and not come back to them next year for a contribution.”