KINGMAN, Ariz. — A western Arizona city is hoping to still make some noise this Fourth of July without fireworks.
For the first time in years, Kingman will not be setting off Independence Day fireworks at the Mohave County Fairgrounds. The city instead is staging a block party with free hot dogs, soft drinks and live music Saturday. Instead of a fireworks show, the crowd will get glow sticks and flags.
Kingman resident Shawn Walsh spent the past few months trying to secure city funding and permission for a fireworks show, but the City Council denied his request last month.
City Attorney Carl Cooper warned officials against having fireworks because of an ongoing federal lawsuit related to a pyrotechnician who was injured in 2013, the Kingman Daily Miner reported (http://bit.ly/1GVhQWY ).
“It just seems wrong in America to not be able to have a fireworks celebration on the Fourth of July,” Walsh told The Associated Press. “A small town like Kingman, everybody’s still pretty close-knit around here. It gives them something to do as a community. It’s just kind of sad.”
Walsh, 30, who is attending a university in Utah but is home for the summer, gathered about $5,600 in donations to help offset the costs of fireworks, including insurance. He also made a pitch for city funds he said were budgeted for fireworks, but the city’s Tourism Development Commission recommended that the City Council turn down Walsh’s request. Commission Chairwoman Crystal Burge said fireworks were not an appropriate use of the $35,000 in tourism funds that would have been needed.
The lawsuit came after Jeremy Lee was badly hurt in a 2013 fireworks accident. Attorneys representing him are asking for $10 million for Lee and $1 million for each of his parents, according to court documents filed in March.
The city is one of four defendants in the suit. Also named are the Mohave County Fair Association; the Kingman Boomers, a now disbanded nonprofit that collected money for the city fireworks show; and the importer of the fireworks.
Cooper has said he doesn’t believe the city is liable but its culpability could rise if it appears Kingman is rushing to put on another show and then something bad happened.
Fairgrounds manager James Guillot said the only other time there hasn’t been a July Fourth fireworks display was about seven years ago because of weather conditions. He declined to comment further because of the lawsuit.
Walsh said the closest places to see fireworks now are in Valle Vista, a community about 14 miles northeast of Kingman, or 34 miles west in Laughlin, Nevada.
“I’ve got to see fireworks somewhere,” he said.