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2:33 PM Tue, Sept. 25th

Drought could curtail rockets' red glare this July 4<BR>Prescott waiting to decide on safety of fireworks display

PRESCOTT – City officials will let Mother Nature make the call on whether Prescott's annual July 4 fireworks display will go on as planned this year.

If, sometime between now and mid-to-late June, the area gets a significant amount of rain, the fireworks probably will go on. But if the weather stays as dry as it has been, the city likely will cancel the fireworks display.

"We have some time yet to make the decision," Parks and Recreation Director Jim McCasland said Wednesday. "We've talked to our fireworks contractor, and he says we can let him know as little as a week before (the Fourth of July)."

By mid-to-late June, McCasland said he will consult with Prescott Fire Department officials to decide what to do.

"If we're still under significant fire restrictions – if we still can't have charcoal fires in town – we'll probably cancel it," McCasland said.

Deputy Fire Chief Paul Laipple agreed that the fireworks probably should not go on if the weather stays as it is. "If there is no significant change in the weather, we'll probably recommend that they cancel it," he said.

Even though Laipple said he believes the city could conduct the fireworks safely at the Prescott High School location regardless of the precipitation, he said that going on with the display would send the wrong message to a drought-stricken community.

"Our biggest concern is the perception," Laipple said. "That is not the message we want to send out."

The fireworks display is a traditional part of the community's Frontier Days celebration, and McCasland said the city did not want to cancel it unless necessary. "We're still over a month out, and there's still a good chance we won't have to cancel," he said.

Even if the fireworks display doesn't occur, McCasland said the city would go on with other July 4 activities.

There is some precedent for cancellation of the fireworks because of drought: The city canceled the display in 1996, when the community was also experiencing dangerously dry conditions.

Contact Cindy Barks at cbarks@prescottaz.com.