Cumberland Times-News

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July 3, 2013

Fireworks fiasco averted

Launch site moved back to Constitution Park, but pool will be closed all day

CUMBERLAND — A day of rumor and speculation that Cumberland’s Fourth of July fireworks display might be canceled ended happily for lovers of patriotic pyrotechnics Wednesday when Mayor Brian Grim announced about 4:45 p.m. that the show would go on, and at its original location no less.

The traditional, decades-long launch site at Constitution Park was abandoned a few weeks ago because the Maryland State Fire Marshal determined it was too close to the Allegany County 911 Center.

Subsequently, the municipal government searched the city for an alternate location and chose the baseball field at Bishop Walsh School on Haystack Mountain, a site approved by the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the state fire marshal as well.

However, as Independence day approached, it became evident, according to Grim, that the vendor, Schaefer Pyro-technics Inc., Ronks, Pa., met insurance requirements for public land at the park, but not for private land at the school. The details of those requirements was not readily available Wednesday evening. The city is paying $12,500 for the display.

“We have moved 100 yards away from the original launch site at the park,” Grim said. “We have been on the phone all day with the fire marshal and we have approval.”

Fireworks will begin at 9:30 p.m. and continue for 45 to 60 minutes.

The new launch site will require that the park, including the swimming pool, be closed for the day, according to City Administrator Jeff Rhodes. Access will be available only to those with existing pavilion reservations. 

The Potomac Concert Band concert will be relocated to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on Washington Street at 7 p.m. 

The mayor’s Facebook page was alive Wednesday with comments about the potential loss of fireworks. The Times-News chose not to post on its own website until a decision was known.

Grim said the fireworks will be sent skyward from a spot near the fire truck across from the swimming pool, thus eliminating parking there. Also, traffic patterns will be altered in the park.

According to Cumberland Fire Marshal Shannon Adams, the fireworks reach skyward 300 to 500 feet.

Because of recent rains and consultation with Department of Natural Resources foresters, Adams is not concerned about fireworks starting any wildfires in the park or surrounding acreage.

“We’ll have an engine crew available at the site,” Adams said.

Sunset Thursday will be 8:46 p.m. The Weather Channel is predicting a 9 p.m. temperature of 79 degrees, a 20 percent chance of precipitation and winds of 8 mph from the south.

Contact Michael A. Sawyers at msawyers@times-news.com.

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