Archive for Thursday, June 29, 2000

City fireworks display highlights Fourth of July celebration

June 29, 2000

A three-day weekend will not be an option for most, but DeSoto will still celebrate the Fourth of July in traditional fashion.

The annual fireworks display will begin at dusk Tuesday, July 4 at Lexington Trails Middle School. It is co-sponsored by the chamber of commerce and the city.

Kevin Ritter, assistant fire chief for DeSoto, will be shooting the fireworks.

He is licensed, trained and has about 12 years of experience.

"I think it's nice that the city and chamber sponsor the display for the citizens," Ritter said. "It might save people the travel to see another show."

Ritter said the shell arrangement will most likely be changed this year, but he said the show would be the same size as in the past. The cost of the fireworks was $4,500.

The fireworks will be discharged from the practice soccer fields, Ritter said.

People will be allowed to sit on the football field, grandstands or in the school's parking lot, but Ritter said no parking in the cemetery would be permitted this year.

Due to damages and injuries in the past, not to mention the fact that fireworks are illegal in Johnson County, there will be no personal fireworks allowed.

Marilyn Layman, superintendent of the school district, said there are concerns about the two-year old track.

"If a sparkler or personal firework touches the track it burns it," she said.

"The main concerns are safety and security, but also not damaging the track."

The sheriff's department will be in attendance to make sure rules are followed and people are safe, Ritter said.

Michael Raunig, watch commander for the Johnson County sheriff's office, reminded residents that fireworks are illegal in Johnson County.

"If they catch somebody the fireworks are seized, a ticket can be issued and (the fireworks) are destroyed at a later time," he said.

In addition to the display, the chamber of commerce will sell fireworks from June 30 through July 4. A tent and booth will be located north of the Kansas River in Leavenworth County (see related story).

Pat Atchison, president of the chamber of commerce, said proceeds from the sale will benefit DeSoto's Watermelon Festival, which will be the last week of August.

Atchison said the chamber is hoping to raise a few thousand dollars and volunteers will operate the booth. She said the tent would be open until 10 p.m.

"We saw this as a way to make money for the community," Atchison said. "This is the first time we've ever sold fireworks."

For people using personal fireworks in legal locations, Ritter said safety precautions should be taken into consideration. He said people should wear eye protection, appropriate clothing and that they should know the product being fired.

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