Why There Won't Be as Many Fireworks This Year

The Fourth of July fireworks I have gone to for years have been canceled. Oakland is hosting a bunch of other Independence Day activities in Jack London Square—they’ll have some local bands, a magician, and a petting zoo—but the city just didn’t have the money to put on a fireworks display this year.

Oakland’s not alone. In the greater San Francisco Bay Area, 4 of the 11 major fireworks shows have been canceled due to budget cuts. It’s another obvious sign that real economic recovery is still a way off. Industry figures show that sales of fireworks in the U.S. have been flat in dollar terms since the start the start of the recession—as a nation we spend about a $1 billion every year on fireworks—while the total quantity of fireworks sold has fallen sharply since 2006. Across the country celebratory fireworks shows have been canceled as city and state governments struggle to balance their budgets. Some cities—like La Jolla—have held fundraising drives to keep the annual shows alive, although many of those efforts have fallen short. Other cities have drastically scaled back their fireworks shows.

No public official wants to be the one to cancel the fireworks. While we may have less to celebrate these days, we could probably use the magic of fireworks now more than ever. But with local governments having to lay off public employees, it's hard to justify turning around and spending their salaries on a fireworks display. As one New Jersey resident told The New York Times, "People are losing their jobs, so it doesn’t feel right to be spending so much on a party."

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WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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