The town of Cave Creek is looking into canceling a traditional July 3rd fireworks celebration citing extremely dry conditions due to lack of rain, and high fire danger predicted for the next few weeks ahead.
The Town Council decided to deny the organizer’s permit to have the fireworks celebration, because of those dry conditions.
The decision is not sitting well with organizers of the independence day celebration, who say they have safety been hosting this fireworks display for 25 years with no problems.
Danny Piacquadio, the owner of Harold's Corral, said he hoped that town officials would re-consider.
"It's Harold's position that we've already had a drought for the last 39 years, it's a desert, it's always dry," said Piacquadio.
The event brought 5,000-6,000 people into the small town to celebrate.
Piacquadio also pointed out the town allowed fireworks to be set off during the town's Balloon Festival three weeks ago at Rancho Marana, where there was much more vegetation and fuel for a fire.
He added that Harold's was planning to reduce the size of the shells and use 2.5-inch shells with a fallout area of 175 feet which would expose less desert terrain than the balloon festival did.
Piacquadio said Harold's had a newly paved road leading up to the hill where the fireworks are shot off, which was primarily a dirt road with very little vegetation.
While Rural Metro watered the area down, Harold's offered to spend more time watering it in advance of the show. Organizers had already spent a lot of time and money to promote the event, and many patrons had already reserved tables in advance.
"We as owners of Harold's would never do anything to put the town in jeopardy," said Piacquadio.
While Town Hall was closed for business, ABC15 was able to get ahold of the town manager Carrie Dyrek who called the decision to cancel the fireworks very difficult as they heavily relied upon the sales tax revenue generated from the event.
Dyrek said they had looked at a lot of research, studies, charts, and weather models before making the decision.
From the effects of the wind to the size of the mortars, and the diameter it would impact to rainfall totals. Dyrek said they found the conditions to be too risky to host a fireworks show this year.
In documents provided to ABC15, the fire chief for Rural Metro stated: "I have expressed for years how uncomfortable I am with the fireworks at Harold's. The area is tight as far as distance from the crowd." He added that a few years ago a shell had fired toward the crowd, hitting an adult and a child.
The town council discussed the issue on Monday and heard from the organizers of the event.
Despite emotional pleas from business owners and residents, town officials stood firm in their decision; citing extremely high fire danger and drought conditions as reasons for canceling the fireworks show on July 3.
Owner of Harold's corral said although there might not be any fireworks, they still plan to hold a big party so people can come out regardless. The owners said they're working out the details.
Larry Wendt, the owner of the Blue Chip Saloon, said the decision to cancel the fireworks isn't going to sit well with the majority of Cave Creek's residents.
"In 25 years we've never had an issue. I think this is setting a very bad precedent because it is always very dry and windy in July in Arizona, always," Wendt said. "I came to the meeting with hopes that the voices from businesses would be heard. I don't believe it will happen now because town council needed to make a motion to reconsider it or to get other input and they didn't. That is very hard to see."