Ban sparks alternate plans: Laser light show may replace American Village fireworks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2007

American Village Director Tom Walker doesn&8217;t want to be remembered like Mrs. O&8217;Leary&8217;s cow, the animal famed for kicking over a lantern to start the Great Chicago Fire, even if that means changing one of Shelby County&8217;s most spectacular Fourth of July celebrations.

Dry weather and a 33-county fireworks ban prompted organizers at the Village, located in Montevallo, to make alternate plans for the center&8217;s annual Independence Day event.

Walker will meet with an Atlanta-based company next week to discuss a laser light display as a substitute to the originally planned fireworks show, a 20-minute presentation costing almost $8,000.

&8220;We&8217;re going to follow whatever official direction the state and city provide,&8221; Walker said. &8220;We have our fingers crossed that weather conditions will change and we will be able to do our traditional fireworks show.&8221;

Earlier this month, State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk issued a temporary ban on the discharge of fireworks in 33 Alabama counties facing emergency drought situations, including Shelby County.

Municipalities and other organizations can apply for special permits to hold organized fireworks displays.

Fireworks or laser lights, Walker said the Village&8217;s July 4 presentation would stay true to the spirit of John Adams, who said the Fourth of July would always be remembered as a time of &8220;grand illumination.&8221;

Alabaster Mayor David Frings said city leaders there made the decision to drop fireworks from summer event plans in the face of dry conditions earlier this spring.

&8220;We decided back in May, before any money was spent, to have no fireworks due to the drought.&8221;

But not every Shelby County city has shied away from the use of fireworks in its holiday celebrations.

The city of Columbiana actually added another fireworks show to its Liberty Day weekend, June 29-30.

A Friday night show will precede Saturday&8217;s event, which will be even bigger than in years past, said councilman Tom Seale.

&8220;The highlight of the weekend is the fireworks show,&8221; he said. &8220;That&8217;s what everyone looks forward to.&8221;

Seale said the city is working with the fire marshal to obtain a permit for the two-night fireworks presentation