No fireworks glow over Port Townsend this Fourth; show canceled (and personal pyro banned inside city limit)

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Anyone who lives in or around Port Townsend who wants to watch fireworks on the Fourth of July will have to leave home to do so.

They could go to Port Angeles or Forks or Neah Bay, all of which will host fireworks shows Thursday.

They could go to the Kingston waterfront.

Or take in the fireworks Wednesday on the Poulsbo waterfront.

But they can’t watch them over Port Townsend Bay.

Last year, the city announced that presenting fireworks was something it can no longer support, and John Eissinger, a pyrotechnist who has managed the presentation for the past 12 years, attempted to get sponsors for the show.

He was unable to do so in time to secure a Coast Guard permit for shooting fireworks over the water. Application for the Coast Guard permit must be made 90 days before the event.

The absence of a Fourth of July fireworks display will motivate the community to start planning for next year, Eissinger said.

“I’m already talking to some corporate sponsors and asking if they may be willing to support this in 2014,” he said.

“I think if we start early, we may be able to get something lined up.”

Eissinger began managing the fireworks from a barge in Port Townsend Bay in 2001 and almost had to cancel the event in 2011 for lack of funds.

But a move to the area near Fort Worden State Park’s lighthouse instead of on the barge knocked $6,000 off the $16,000 cost, and the city of Port Townsend contributed in 2011 and 2012.

“I think if we take a year off, people will get organized and make it work next year,” he said.

“It’s a great community event. It draws 6,000 or 7,000 people into the park just to watch the show, and that doesn’t count those who sit at home or on boats.”

Eissinger said a community fireworks display discourages people from starting their own fireworks celebrations. Consumer fireworks are illegal within the city limit.

Port Townsend Police Officer Luke Bogues said the rule against individual fireworks will be strictly enforced.

“We don’t want to arrest anyone for celebrating our nation’s birthday,” he said. “If someone just needs to be educated about the law, we’ll be lenient, but if they seem to be willfully violating the law, they could be charged.”

Discharging certain fireworks outside the city limit in unincorporated Jefferson County is legal, Bogues said.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: June 29. 2013 7:32PM
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