Officals pleased with changes to fireworks show, despite some minor debris hitting crowd

Fireworks light up the sky over Gene Coulon memorial Park, July 4, 2013. - Gary Palmer for the Renton Reporter
Fireworks light up the sky over Gene Coulon memorial Park, July 4, 2013.
— image credit: Gary Palmer for the Renton Reporter

Renton officials are calling the Fabulous Fourth fireworks show "very successful" but admit there will be a few things to look at for next year, including some smoke and debris that blew on shore during the show.

According to Community Relations and Events Coordinator Sonja Mejlaender, the city learned "lots" from its first land-launched fireworks show, but was ultimately pleased with the results.

"We felt the show was more saturated and very impressive," she said Friday.

This year, due to changes in regulations, the city was forced to launch its annual display from the water walk instead of a barge. That meant the fireworks were only 300 feet out, instead of the usual 1,000 feet, and only went up about 300 feet, instead of the traditional 600 feet.

"It felt close," she said of the changes. "It was exciting.

Acting Assistant Fire Marshall Ted Hickey agreed, calling the display "pretty spectacular," but said his crews did notice the prevailing winds blowing off the lake forced some of the debris back toward where some of the crowds were watching.

Hickey said some people complained about cardboard from the fireworks or other debris hitting them and they treated  one young boy who got a little ash in his eye, but "nothing that was on fire" fell anywhere near the crowd.

"For the first time we tried doing the fireworks show this way … it worked out pretty good," he said.

Hickey agreed the wind was a minor issue and said some adjustments may need to be made for next year. For example, while the fireworks were aimed over the lake, a steeper angle may be needed.

"We went into this expecting to have to make some adjustments next year," Hickey said, adding that all changes would be minor.

Mejlaender agreed that the angle may need to be steeper next year, but praised the show put on by Western Display, the 11th year the company has handled Renton's display.

"We were pleased to do the best we could," she said.

The city collected feedback surveys at the park and Mejlaender said they heard a little about the smoke and debris, but urged anyone who attended the park to fill out a city-sponsored survey oin the day, available at the city's website.

"The only way we're going to get that feedback is if people head to and take a few minutes to take that survey,: she said.

Mejlaender said her department is preparing a report for the administration and council on the event, the city's biggest one day event. This year, like years past, an estimated 20,000 people visited Gene Coulon Memorial Park through the day.

With feedback from the public and the council and administration, Mejlaender said adjustments could be made to nest year's show.

"The planning for next year starts right away," she said.

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