Tuesday, July 5, 2011


We squeezed in the back seat of our neighbor's car to go see the fireworks. We'd been keeping an eye on the the town's Facebook and Twitter updates after the rain started falling. But we were happy that the fireworks were still on at 9.30pm, clambered into the car, and away we went.

I imagine the crowd was much sparser than normal due to the rain immediately preceding the fireworks. We hunkered down on the empty field on North Church Street, which was nowhere near capacity. The delays (the 9:30pm fireworks were pushed backed to 10:45pm or later) allowed us to watch a slow procession of cars heading back into town.

We ultimately joined this procession a little after 10:30p and headed home. As we were falling asleep, we could here the muffled sound of sporadic fireworks.

The next day, there was quite the conversation on Facebook about the problems involving the fireworks. This prompted town manager Mike McLaurin to respond with an explanation/apology that was pretty well-received.

Here it is:
As Town Manager, I would like to share some thoughts regarding last night’s fireworks. For many years our fireworks show has gone off without a hitch and both the show and the attendance has grown in numbers. Last night was an exception.

Putting on Town events requires many hours from both town employee time and volunteers. We do so in the spirit and hope that you will visit our events, have a good time and return with your friends and neighbors. Some of our employees have worked approximately 50 hours in the last three days. On July 4th some started their day at 5:30 a.m. in the morning and concluded around midnight.

Many of you came to enjoy our parade and looked forward to the evening’s events. Many of you were disappointed and I apologize.

Last night’s storms before the fireworks show were expected to blow through quickly, but unexpectedly hung around for at least two hours. If they had moved through as was hoped we may not have had the water saturation or length of delay that ultimately postponed the fireworks for an hour and fifteen minutes. As the delay wore on many of us grew cold and tired. As a parent and grandparent, I can testify firsthand that when kids get tired, they get cranky.

There was a delay and you are owed an explanation. As you might imagine setting up a fireworks event requires a number of hours of tedious planning and wiring. The rains totally soaked a number of components needed for the show. We were initially told that everything was dry but this proved not to be the case. The heavy rain also caused the timing of the fireworks to be off or in some cases not fire at all.

At 9:00 p.m. it appeared that the rain was letting up and we were told that the show could begin around the scheduled time of 9:30 p.m. We were happy to learn we could still give you the fireworks show of which you are proud, but the fireworks tech need to recheck/rewire everything due to the dampness. This was paramount for safety reasons and took much longer than expected. Erring on the side of safety was the correct thing to do, and all of the work is done in coordination with the Town and the County Fire Marshal. We use a professional pyrotechnic company to do our fireworks and they have done an outstanding job in prior years. It’s why so many make the trip to Waxhaw with children and families for this event.

Throughout the event we relayed information we received from the technicians via Facebook and Twitter. With that being said, we now realize that many of you didn’t have access to that information and were left waiting for some answers.

Earlier today I conducted the first set of several meetings with key staff to look at what worked and what we need to do better. The first meeting yielded some ideas that we will follow up on to give you the best show possible. We will also be meeting with the fireworks company to discuss last night’s event and identify ways that future issues could be prevented.

I want to thank each of you who have commented, both those satisfied and not satisfied. Everyone’s thoughts can help the town build a better plan. In conclusion I want to again apologize for your disappointment but hope that you understand why the delay occurred.
Personally, I was a little disappointed, but didn't feel it was the end of the world; there was no anger directed at the town or fireworks technicians from me.

The only thing I found a little strange is that there seemed to be a lot less Twitter updates on the town's Twitter feed the next morning than what my wife and I recalled the night before. I recalled 2-3 more Twitter updates (tweets if you will) than what was present in the morning. I specifically recall an update about replacing fuses that I could not find either on the town's Twitter feed or on its Facebook page the next morning

I emailed Mike McLaurin and he initially told me that no one deleted any tweets, but he said he'd look into it. Does anyone else recall more Twitter updates the night of than what's showing currently on the town's Twitter feed or are my wife and I slowly going insane? Perhaps it's the mercury in those CFL light bulbs?

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