After 30 Years, Glen Burnie July 4th Fireworks May Fizzle

April 29, 1992|By Deidre Nerreau McCabe | Deidre Nerreau McCabe,Staff writer

There will be no more boom, boom in Glen Burnie this July. No more whistlers, no star bursts. No fireworks.

After 30 years of entertaining thousands of Glen Burnie residents with an annual display in Third Avenue Park, the Glen Burnie Improvement Association is about to call it quits.

Worried about the impact of new state fireworks safety regulations, officers of the association have decided it would be too risky to do a fireworks show this year, and possibly ever again.

"We think it's just too dangerous to do it at Third Avenue Park," said GBIA president Muriel Carter. "It doesn't seem like a good idea to have them."

The seven-member board of directors is scheduled to make a finaldecision about canceling the show tonight at its monthly meeting.

F. William Kuethe, GBIA's fireworks chairman, said he recommended canceling the traditional July Fourth display because Third Avenue Parkdoes not meet new distance requirements for fireworks safety.

"We're worried about liability," he said.

The new regulations, which will go into effect statewide in about two weeks, were recommended bythe state Fire Marshal's Office, which regulates fireworks safety, said spokesman Robert B. Thomas. The fire marshal began considering tougher statewide regulations after national safety standards were beefed up in 1990, Thomas said.

The new regulations would double, triple and in some cases quadruple the required distance between areas where fireworks are set off and spectator areas. Distances to certain types of buildings, such as prisons and health facilities, also would be increased.

In March, when news of the new standards spread, people in some communities were so angry they called the Fire Marshal's Office to protest.

State legislators from Baltimore County demanded that the state reconsider the changes, which would have ruled out fireworks in several communities, including Catonsville. Mostly because of pressure from lawmakers, state Fire Marshal Rocco J. Gabriele said his office would exempt existing sites, where displays have been held in the past, as long as local fire officials agreed.

All new sites applying for fireworks permits would have to meet the new standards, Thomas said.

Kuethe said local fire officials, who inspect sites in the county before fireworks permits are issued, might have "grandfathered" the Third Avenue site. But GBIA officials decided that even with an exemption, the risk would be too great for the association since the park barely met the old distance requirements and doesn'tcome close to meeting the new standards.

Kuethe and others have scoured Glen Burnie looking for other sites that would comply, but haven't found any.

"The only site that would have worked is the Cromwell field site," Kuethe said. But the field, located off Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, is slated to be developed as the new light-rail terminus. So even if GBIA got permission to do fireworks there, it could only be for one year, he said.

More than 7,000 people watch the Third Avenue fireworks, which have been set off from the same spot for three decades. According to Kuethe, there's never been a reported injury stemming from GBIA's show.

"A lot of people are going to miss it," he said.

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