Saturday, May 11, 2002

Fireworks are back for the Fourth in Hamilton

By Steve Kemme,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — The bang will be back in Hamilton's Fourth of July this year.

        Last year, the city's traditional fireworks along the Great Miami River were canceled because of concerns about new restrictions on fireworks events in the state fire code.

        But Hamilton officials plan to resume the display because the state has relaxed some of those restrictions.

        “We'll have fireworks on the river, just like we've had in the past,” City Manager Steve Sorrell said. “We're going to conform to the state fire code and have a great time.”

        A large colorful fireworks display traditionally marked the grand finale of a daylong Fourth of July celebration in downtown Hamilton, near the river.

        But it was canceled last year because the state made fire inspectors criminally liable for fireworks events, and because of concerns about the cost of police overtime.

        “The money issue was secondary,” Mr. Sorrell said.

        Under pressure from fire chiefs throughout Ohio, the state removed the criminal liability clause.

        Acting Fire Chief Steve Dawson said he's glad fireworks are returning.

        “It's a big tradition, and we always have a good turnout,” he said.

        The fireworks will be shot from the east bank of the Great Miami between the Columbia Bridge and the railroad bridge, a little farther from the central business district than in some years.

        “When we shot them off north of the railroad bridge, we were closer to the downtown area,” Mr. Sorrell said. “With housing being very close to the river there, it created safety concerns.”

        This year's fireworks site is far enough away from occupied housing to alleviate those worries, he said.

        Karen Whalen, a member of a committee raising private funds for Hamilton's July 4 celebration, is delighted that fireworks will light the skies again.

        “Having fireworks returning to our July 4 festivities is fabulous,” she said.

        The day's activities, including the fireworks, are financed by the Hamilton Community Foundation and money raised by the Fourth of July Committee.

        “The fireworks,” Mrs. Whalen said, “are the culmination of a great, old-fashioned, patriotic day in Hamilton.”


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