Leave Fireworks To The Professionals

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With the forests closing and the trees around us sitting patiently like piles of dry tinder, people have been waiting to hear the inevitable news that the Fourth of July fireworks will be canceled.

Fortunately, the Payson Parks and Recreation Department has decided not to cancel this year's fireworks.

But this year's display will come with every extra precaution.

The fireworks will be set off over the lake in Green Valley Park and prior to the show, the area will be covered with fire retardant foam. The nearby park grounds will be heavily irrigated. Payson Parks and Recreation department director Bill Schwind is not anticipating any problems unless the wind kicks up.

The Fire Department will have officers on hand to watch for embers. This year's July 4 display will include 2,205 total effects.

More than 30 minutes of shells filled with colored gunpowder will be shot into the air by Fireworks Productions of Arizona to light up the Payson night.

"The grand finale will be a 60-shell piece including 35 of the big ones," Schwind said.

"It's way cool," he said.

But the fireworks should stop there. This year, let's leave all Fourth of July fireworks to professionals. This is not the year to set off those fun, but illegal, pyrotechnics you bought on the side of the highway in Wyoming.

With the Brins Fire raging in nearby Sedona and many of our firefighters stepping up to help out, our resources are thin.

The forest is closed for a reason, and we know from experience it's not something the Forest Service does lightly. Earlier this year, when the February Fire became the earliest wildfire in Arizona history, people were calling for forest closure. The Forest Service responded to our stream of Letters to the Editor on the subject with a half page special commentary explaining why it wasn't necessary at that time.

Now that the Coconino is closed and portions of the Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves forests are blocked off, we ask that residents show respect for those boundaries and for the accompanying fire restrictions.

You might be rolling your eyes as you read this. We must sound like a parent who thinks you don't know any better. This is common sense, you say.

But it obviously needs to be said, because so many fires are still human caused -- a campfire left burning, a cigarette butt thrown from a moving car -- despite the endless warnings.

So, in this eighth year of drought and too many wildfires behind us, let's ensure that the fireworks we see on the Fourth at Green Valley Park are the only ones of the season.

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