Fireworks issue handled poorly by all
Last week, The DeSoto Explorer took the Watermelon Festival Committee to task for selling fireworks in Leavenworth County.
While I stand behind the premise of the editorial, I feel a need to explain our position a little more clearly.
Additionally, the analogy we made regarding the street walker selling drugs was unfair.
And, for that, we apologize.
We support the Watermelon Festival. It is an important part of the town's summer celebration. The committee works many hours to pull off this event, and that's commendable.
We plan to cover the festival in The Explorer and hope DeSoto turns out in record numbers to support the committee's hard work.
However, the issue is clear in my mind. We believe the committee did not think the plan through thoroughly.
No doubt, fund-raising is difficult. But to attempt to dismiss the claims that people would use fireworks illegally by saying that "they know the law just like we do" is not strong enough.
It's our contention that the committee washed its hands of any responsbility in providing fireworks albeit legally to those who might choose to used them illegally.
The Watermelon Festival is a community event. Locals would be buying fireworks from the stand and transporting them back to DeSoto. The committee knew this and only after The Explorer talked to the committee about the plan was the decision made to include a disclaimer.
That was a step in the right direction and we editorialized on that point in last week's paper. However, it should have been part of the plan from the beginning
Pat Atchison from the chamber of commerce hit the nail on the head: "People have a personal responsibility to follow the law."
Ultimately, we just wish the committee would have looked at less explosive means to raise money. Fireworks in our town are illegal.
To circumvent the law here by going across the border, knowing DeSoto residents would be attracted to the stand, which incidentally was announced at a chamber meeting, probably wasn't the best way to make money.
If the chamber and the committee believed what they were doing was right, the stand would have stayed open. That it was closed says volumes.
We also erred on the advertising side last week. I don't know the legalities regarding the Shawnee tribe treaty, but if the county said it was illegal for Jim Oyler to sell fireworks on his land, we shouldn't have run ads for an illegal fireworks stand.
On this one, we goofed and we apologize for the inconsistency. There was also an ad for a Eudora stand in The Explorer, and in retrospect, we probably shouldn't have accepted that, either.
At least one good thing should come from this: The difficulty the committee has in raising funds to pull off a community event should not go unnoticed.
We hope the town sees the difficult decisions event planners must make in putting together costly events and pitches in to make this year's Watermelon Festival the best ever.
Next year, maybe we'll have more awareness of the difficulty in pulling this off, and we'll see more support and sponsorship.