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Our View: With annual public display canceled, wait ‘til next year for fireworks l COMMENTARY

We’re in the midst of a Carroll County summer like no other in terms of traditional activities that are casualties of the novel coronavirus. The fire company carnivals were scrapped or pushed way back. Common Ground on the Hill is off as are so many camps and anticipated gatherings. The Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair will go on, but without the public allowed in for crowd-pleasing annual events such as the concert, demolition derby and rodeo.

And, of course, the Fourth of July fireworks display at the Carroll County Farm Museum that draws thousands each year and is as much a part of summer around here as sunburn, will not be held. No oohs, no aahs this year.

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In voting to cancel the display last month, the county commissioners acknowledged that if the gates were closed but the fireworks were still displayed, people would likely still show up, increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19. Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, said he did not want to cancel the show, but understood a large gathering would pose a health and safety risk.

Of course, Carroll County was far from alone in canceling. In fact, pretty much all public fireworks displays throughout the region are off.

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That raises a concern. If folks can’t get their fireworks fix in the traditional way, even more people than usual may buy and set off commercial fireworks, which can be quite dangerous — think losing a finger or an eye or starting a fire — not to mention illegal.

Keep in mind, while fireworks are legal to buy in some neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, it is illegal to purchase fireworks in those states and ignite them in Maryland. Violators are subject to a fine of up to $1,000. Illegal fireworks include devices that fly into the air, pieces that create a loud explosion or Chinese-style lanterns with no control of direction or path.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal held a fireworks safety news conference last week in Marriottsville. Demonstrations were held to show the potential dangers. Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci sent out a news release detailing some safety precautions for those who insist on using fireworks.

  • Read and follow label warnings and instructions.
  • Prior to igniting fireworks, wet down the entire area to help prevent errant sparks from igniting vegetation.
  • Do not allow small children to use fireworks. Sparklers burn at approximately 1,200 degrees.
  • Do not consume alcoholic beverages while using fireworks.
  • Have a bucket of water or hose available.
  • Completely douse remains of fireworks before proper disposal.

We get it. Saturday is Independence Day. Many will want to celebrate — and we are all for safe celebrations. It’s an important holiday, the 244th anniversary of our country declaring its independence from England and the monarchy. We have celebrated the Fourth of July ever since.

But there’s no need to assert independence by doing something illegal and potentially dangerous. Enjoy getting together with friends and family at backyard barbecues (with the requisite reminders to socially distance and safely dispose of coals and ashes). Go swimming. Wave the flag. Responsibly eat, drink and be merry. Just wait ‘til next year when it comes to fireworks.

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