Other events will go on as planned PASADENA

DOWNS PARK FIREWORKS FIZZLE DUE TO COST-CUTTING

June 25, 1993|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff Writer

County Executive Robert R. Neall has quietly extinguished the annual Fourth of July fireworks show at Downs Park because it does not fit his vision of a "plain vanilla government," a park official said.

The decision has disappointed some residents who were planning to attend the event until they learned yesterday from a reporter that the fireworks had been canceled. Parks officials say other events, including a 6 p.m. country and western concert, still are planned.

"My poor grandchildren, they'll be so disappointed," said Ruth Snowden, a Glen Burnie resident who took her 10 grandchildren to the event last year. "I don't know what I'm going to do this year."

The county has sponsored the pyrotechnic display every year since the 230-acre park opened in 1983.

But Mr. Neall included no money in the county's $663 million spending plan for fiscal year 1994, which will begin July 1, for the display. In the past, the county has spent $45,000 to $50,000 on rockets and overtime for park employees and police who assist the 15,000 spectators the event draws every year.

"Looking at the current financial situation, the fact that we are laying people off, we couldn't justify a one-shot event," said Jay Cuccia, assistant to the county parks administrator. "As Mr. Neall would say, it doesn't fit in with a plain vanilla government."

County Councilman Carl G. "Dutch" Holland, a Pasadena Republican, said the money was cut this year because of the limits voters placed on the county's property tax revenues in November. But, he said, he plans to lobby to bring the fireworks back next year.

The fireworks were the main topic of conversation yesterday among the breakfast crowd at Cookie's Kitchen in Pasadena.

"Most people take it for granted," said owner Ruth "Cookie" Kiser, a Lake Shore resident. "I can't understand why they've waited so long to tell people. Why are we finding out so late?"

Sean Forrester of Chesterfield said he had planned to attend until he learned yesterday morning the fireworks had been canceled. He was even more surprised money was the reason.

"When I heard they weren't having it, I thought it must be because of the traffic," Mr. Forrester said. "But I'd think they'd be able to pull the money from somewhere."

Ms. Kiser, who has helped raise thousands of dollars to finance the cost of the park's annual summer concert series, said the private sector may have been able to raise some,if not all, of the money needed.

"I think the money could have been raised if they had told people in time," she said.

Not all of the July 4th events have been nixed. Ranger Rick Holt said the park will sponsor a sand-castle-building contest from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and face painting for children from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Coyote, a country band, is to play at 6 p.m. in the park amphitheater. The park will close at dusk. A $4 parking fee will be charged.

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