Fireworks were missed in Plymouth

THE FOURTH OF JULY was marked with celebrations of all kinds in Sheboygan County and across the country.

The festivities included all the things Founding Father John Adams predicted would be part of future commemorations just days after the original Declaration of Independence was signed – “pomp and parade, … games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”

But in the midst of all that commemoration, there was one place where the day went by with ceremony at all – right here in the city of Plymouth.

While there were an estimated 16,000 fireworks displays in the United States to mark the 241st anniversary of the original Declaration, Plymouth was not on that list – for the first time in the memory of most everyone who lives here.

For many years, the Fourth of July meant a community picnic in City Park capped off by a fireworks display that filled the night sky.

Over the years, the picnic dwindled and eventually withered away, the result of increased competition from other communities and events, a growing list of alternative activities to entice residents and the increasing cost of staging the event.

But until this year, a fireworks display still remained a Fourth of July staple in the city of Plymouth.

However, the increasing cost of staging the fireworks; the reluctance on the part of local clubs and organizations that were busy with other worthwhile community projects demanding their time, attention and money to step forward and take the lead on staging the fireworks; and again increasing competition from other events and activities spelled the end for Fourth of July fireworks in the city of Plymouth.

That they were missed by many was evident by the firestorm of commentary that broke out on the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page when they posted an announcement that the fireworks would not take place this year.

That included, unfortunately, a lot of flaming and blaming of the chamber for “dropping the ball” on the fireworks. The truth is, the fireworks have never been a chamber-sponsored or financed event and the “ball” was never theirs to drop, so any blame directed at them was incorrect and unnecessary.

Similarly, the fireworks were never a city-sponsored event and while the city government made a modest contribution to their cost in some past years, the city has not been involved financially in the fireworks for many years. Their only role was to approve staging the fireworks display – which the City Council did regularly and gladly.

Putting on a Fourth of July fireworks display is not an inexpensive proposal. It requires a significant investment for the pyrotechnical material alone, along with the qualified people to fire them off and, most importantly, the costly but necessary insurance to cover them.

Holding the fireworks on the Fourth of July meant that Plymouth was competing each year with the city of Sheboygan’s fireworks which, thanks to generous sponsorship from a number of local industries, usually were bigger and brighter than ours here – which were certainly never too shabby on their own.

It would certainly be nice if some group or organization would step forward and pick up the ball on Plymouth’s Fourth of July fireworks.

There is plenty of time if the effort starts now to get support – including, hopefully, support from local businesses and industries as well – to bring the fireworks back in 2018, when Independence Day falls on a Wednesday. They could be scheduled in between Elkhart Lake’s Fireman’s Picnic fireworks and Sheboygan’s Fourth of July fireworks.

That might stretch out the glorious celebration John Adams predicted almost a quarter of a millennium ago over a fitting several days.


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