Fireworks banned on the Fourth of July?
It might seem unfathomable for a small town in the South to ban fireworks, but there’s an ordinance in place that’s even enforced from time to time.
It’s been illegal for private citizens to set off fireworks in the Benton city limits since Ordinance No. 32 of 2004 was passed a few years ago (click here for the PDF if the previous Word link didn’t work for you).
Since that ordinance was passed, it’s been illegal for anyone but the city of Benton to put on a fireworks display. Well, that’s not entirely true — Resolution No. 20 of 2010 authorizes the Property Owners Association of Hurricane Lake Estates to put on a fireworks display. We mere individuals living in Benton, however, are required to head to various parts of Saline County to shoot off fireworks.
Of course, some of us have relatives up the road in Bryant and could go to their homes and set off fireworks. Bryant people, evidently, are more responsible about handling fireworks than we Benton residents are.
Or, perhaps, the Bryant City Council sees the inherent irony of banning a traditional way of celebrating our independence on the Fourth of July whereas the Benton City Council does not.
At any rate, the fireworks ban has been largely ignored in Benton over the past few years. Fireworks go off constantly around the Fourth of July and on New Year’s Eve around here with out getting hassled about it. Evidently, the ban is only enforced when a busy-body neighbor calls and complains.
We found that out last night as we were setting off fireworks. Fortunately, the policeman who told us to stop what we were doing didn’t penalize us under the ordinance by charging us with a misdemeanor — that’s good for a fine of up to $200 and/or 90 days in jail.
Fortunately, common sense may prevail here. Alderman Doug Stracener said he’s getting an ordinance ready that would lift the ban on fireworks around the Fourth of July or around New Year’s Day. He may be successful in that, indeed.
Otherwise, we’re stuck with a state-sanctioned and approved celebration of our independence through a public fireworks display. Either that, or a lot of citizens might do what they’ve done for the past six years — set the rascals off and hope a nervous, killjoy neighbor doesn’t pull a Grinch and call the police.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.