Chandler celebrates the 4th of July without fireworks
By Ken Sain
The town of Chandler will celebrate July 4th this year, but will do so without fireworks.
City officials are planning an All-American Bash at AJ Chandler Park downtown. Cold Shott and the Hurricane Horns will perform two sets of their rocking R&B music.
There will be no fireworks due to a shortage of pyrotechnics – an issue that also forced Phoenix to cancel its fireworks show.
“It’s a domino effect that started when COVID happened in 2020,” said Jason Colt, owner of Santan Fireworks, whose company Avondale is Arizona’s largest fireworks retailer.
According to Colt, here are the problems:
All manufacturing is based in Shanghai, China, and factories have started to fall behind due to the pandemic, forced to close and run out of workers.
All shipments from Shanghai are controlled by one man and the importer and exporters must stay on his good side to get their goods on a ship and on their way to the United States.
The Port of Long Beach had the same labor shortages that other industries face, which led to many goods sitting in port for weeks before shipping.
The backlog has made it difficult to keep track of the US rail system and many containers full of fireworks are waiting for an available train seat.
At the same time, there have been all these supply issues, consumer demand has increased by more than 300%.
“People are bored,” Colt said. “People have nothing to do and just decide they want to blow up fireworks.”
Put all of these factors together, and many cities have to plan 4th of July parties that don’t include fireworks.
The city traditionally organizes a fireworks display on the 4th of July. They didn’t in 2020 because of the pandemic, but had one a year ago as social distancing requirements began to be relaxed.
“Due to shortages in the supply chain, we weren’t able to put on a large-scale show that Chandler was used to attending,” said Kim Moyers, the city’s director of cultural development.
Supply chain issues have also led to price hikes. Colt said it used to pay $10,000 to have a container shipped from Shanghai and delivered to Goodyear. Now it pays over $31,000 and it only ships to Long Beach. He has to pay another $6,000 to send her to Arizona.
He said his retail business will do well this year as he ordered his supply more than a year ago. It has over 50 locations set up statewide.
All aerial fireworks are illegal for residents to set off in the state. Organizations that have a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms can trigger them in live performances. Of course, that probably won’t stop some people.
The only type of fireworks that is legal for Arizona residents is ground based. The council made it legal for residents to set them off on residential streets when they updated the fire code earlier this year.
A city official said there were no restrictions on when residents could set them off, as long as it was within the time frame approved by state law. However, that will likely change soon. The state legislature has passed a bill that allows cities to regulate the time fireworks can be set off, beginning at 11 p.m.
Chandler City Council won’t be able to make any changes until at least the fall, when it will have to review the city’s fire code.
Colt said they’re easy to buy in nearby states and bring back to Arizona. He expects the law to eventually change to allow residents to trigger them.
“It’s coming,” he said. “As you can see in the sky on the 4th of July. You hear that people really don’t care, and they are the ones sending a message to the government.
People who are looking for traditional fireworks.