If You Live Here, You Might Not See Fireworks on the Fourth of July

Cities across the U.S. have decided not to put on displays this year.

This Fourth of July, you might look forward to a day on the beach or a barbecue in the backyard. The celebration of American independence is a hallmark event in the U.S., and it is generally defined by one signature display—fireworks. Many of us decide in advance where we'll watch fireworks go off, and we even plan to get there early to secure the best spot. But some Americans may miss out on a celebratory show in their hometowns this year. Read on to find out where fireworks won't be going off on July 4.

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The use of fireworks dates back to the first Independence Day celebration.

taking photos of fireworks
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Fireworks are a Fourth of July staple, but do you know why we celebrate with these mini-explosions every year? Fireworks were first used in China over 2,000 years ago, according to the Farmer's Almanac, and their use on Independence Day dates back to the first celebration, in July 1777. John Adams called for great pomp and circumstance to celebrate America's independence when he wrote to his wife Abigail Adams on July 3, 1776, one day before the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

The following year, Adams got his wish when fireworks were set off in Philadelphia on July 4, becoming a tradition that has endured to the present day. And while it's difficult to break tradition, some U.S. cities say they don't have a choice in 2022.

Fireworks won't be going off in different municipalities.

small town firework display preparation
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Across the U.S., fireworks shows have been canceled, NPR reported. And while skipping one year may not sound like that big of a deal, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be the third Independence Day in a row without fireworks for some municipalities.

In Phoenix, Arizona, three of the largest displays have been axed due to the city's inability to access professional-grade fireworks, NPR reported.

Most of these fireworks are produced in China, but the problem is related to U.S. ports, which have become that much more congested, according to the outlet. Transporting the fireworks presents a problem, as do higher costs for insurance and labor shortages. And with increased demand for fireworks shows at larger venues, organizers are feeling a strain they didn't experience during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The demand is so high that it's almost like a perfect storm," Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, told NPR.

These issues are not isolated to Arizona, as a shortage of qualified pyrotechnic workers has also forced different towns in the College Park region of Maryland to cancel or reschedule displays, WUSA reported. Scales Lake Park in Boonville, Indiana also canceled fireworks thanks to "supply problems," and in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a spectacle won't occur over the Mississippi River due to staff shortages, as well as construction at a park nearby.

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There are also concerns about natural disasters and weather.

wildfire in california
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Other western cities have different concerns, namely wildfires. In Flagstaff, Arizona, a laser light show is set to replace fireworks, after three wildfires impacted the area this spring.

"The decision was made early because we want people to be able to make plans with their families," Sarah Langley, Flagstaff city spokesperson, told NPR.

Lompoc, California, and Castle Rock, Colorado also cited wildfire fears and canceled their shows, according to NPR—but you can still expect to see fireworks on July 3 at Civic Center Park in Denver.

Droughts are top of mind for Lake Don Pedro, California, which canceled its large fireworks show due to the lack of rain and the lake's anticipated low level.

Make sure your local display is still going on this year.

lighting firecracker
Fotos593 / Shutterstock

Some venues haven't given a reason for cancellations, including one at Southgate Mall in Missoula, Montana, while others have noted safety concerns. In North Carolina, for example, displays were canceled after a fireworks-related explosion led to a man's death and the destruction of "a large cache of fireworks" in a fire, according to NPR.

Considering the widespread cancellations, you'll want to double-check to make sure fireworks will be going off in your usual spot. Thankfully, even if your hometown isn't setting them off, you'll likely be able to plan in advance and find a nearby show to attend.

And if you prefer to take celebrations into your own hands and set off fireworks at home—if they're legal in your state—prepare to pay a premium. Prices for consumer-grade fireworks are up nearly 35 percent in 2022, the American Pyrotechnic Association estimates, per NPR.

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