After 40 years of Independence Day fireworks over Lake Siskiyou, the Mount Shasta Fireworks Committee is considering a new venue for this year’s show.
After 40 years of Independence Day fireworks over Lake Siskiyou, the Mount Shasta Fireworks Committee is considering a new venue for this year’s show. The most promising location, said lead pyrotechnic operator Tom Haistings, is the area around Shastice Park. “This would create a nearly 360 degree viewing area,” said Haistings’ partner, Reece Miller. The fireworks could then be seen from Mount Shasta High School’s football field, several fields at Shastice Park, from the Youth Sports Park behind Sisson, from Everitt Memorial Highway, and from many residents’ back yards. Haistings said there are several factors leading them to consider new venues. One of the most pressing problems is the growth of trees around the lake, which now impede the view for many who watch the show from the Mount Shasta Resort and other locations on the south side of town. For this reason, the committee must purchase expensive, high-lift fireworks that can be seen above the trees. For every 100 feet of lift, the price of the shell doubles, Haistings explained. In addition, it is increasingly difficult to control access to North Shore Road, where the fireworks are traditionally set off, with the construction of Wagon Creek Bridge and the Lake Siskiyou Trail. Last year’s show had a budget of $25,000. Due to the economic turndown and the loss of some big community sponsors, the 2013 show dipped into reserves by $4,000, Haistings said. In order to keep the fireworks tradition alive, the Committee must either increase fundraising or decrease the budget, Haistings explained. “We don’t want to decrease the quality of the show. So we’re looking at other places where the crowd can get closer,” he said. “If we didn’t have to shoot (the fireworks) so high, we wouldn’t have to buy so many big, expensive shells... We had some last year that were $400, $500 each. “It will be difficult to make the transition,” Haistings admitted. “But I would be remiss not to consider other options because the program, in its current form, isn’t sustainable. In the long term, the transition will be well worth the effort.” Possibilities Haistings said moving the July 4 fireworks show into town would help keep visitors in downtown Mount Shasta for the day. It would also create new opportunities for civic groups to have successful, family-oriented fundraisers. Community non-profit groups could host different viewing venues at Shastice Park, the Mount Shasta High School football field and the Youth Sports Park behind Sisson. People could walk to the show from their homes or from local hotels. If the fireworks were moved from the lake, the Mount Shasta Resort could be open for golfers on July 4 and the Lake Siskiyou Trail and Wagon Creek Bridge could be open all day. It would also solve the problem of extreme traffic congestion at Lake Siskiyou and the Resort area, which have limited access and become clogged each year when people flock to the south end of town, said Haistings. Currently, police and fire resources are committed to the Lake Siskiyou area on the evening of July 4. If the fireworks were in a more central location, with many more points of entrance and egress, resources could be consolidated but could still easily respond in any direction if needed. Though Haistings and Miller have high hopes, there are new hoops they’ll have to jump through to make the change happen. There are application processes through the city, the Mount Shasta Recreation and Parks District and also the school districts. “We’ll need to work with three boards to see if it’s even do-able,” Haistings said. “It could take more time than we have this year, but we want to see if this is a feasible option.” Haistings and Miller said they welcome comments and feedback on their “Mt. Shasta Community Fireworks” Facebook page. “Someone might see something we’re not seeing, or have a really good suggestion,” Haistings said. “The Facebook page is also a great way to follow what we’re doing.” Fundraising for the July 4 fireworks show is ongoing. To donate, go to mtshastafireworks.com