(July 6, 2018) After learning varied music was planned for Fourth of July fireworks displays downtown and in Northside Park this week, the City Council passed a motion on Monday that required both shows to play patriotic tunes only.
Councilman Wayne Hartman said after last year’s Fourth of July fireworks, during which the downtown event was set to a mix of traditional and modern tunes, it was decided to revert to a consistent presentation.
“I wanted to raise the issue about the lack of patriotic music downtown,” he said. “Last year after the firework displays, I’m pretty sure we talked about the music … and it was being fixed.”
Hartman was surprised when a constituent contacted him this week after calling the Special Events department about the musical selections.
“They were told there was only a patriotic song at the beginning of the [downtown] firework display and at the end,” he said. “If they wanted patriotic music they had to go up north.”
Hartman questioned the validity of providing more modern music to cater to a potentially younger demographic near the Boardwalk.
“The reason for fireworks on the Fourth of July … it’s a patriotic day,” he said. “If we eliminate patriotic music because of the crowd, I think we’re making a mistake.”
If not in time for this year, Hartman said a change should be instituted for 2019.
“I’m told our music is picked in April and to do something about it this year is probably not possible,” he said.
Mayor Rick Meehan also expressed surprise upon learning that last year’s musical divide endured.
“I spoke to it last year after the fireworks took place and I thought that was the message,” he said. “I checked on that and found out we do have two different music themes, one uptown and one downtown.”
Meehan also suggested the council take immediate action to address the matter.
“Make a motion and that way it will get done,” he said. “I don’t realize why it hasn’t been done, because I agree with Councilman Hartman.”
Meehan also questioned the difficulty with enacting the change this week.
“If they have the track that they’re using in Northside Park, I don’t know why they couldn’t use the same track down at the Boardwalk,” he said.
City Manager Doug Miller said based on conversations with Special Events Director Frank Miller changing the music downtown this week might be problematic.
“It’s my understating that the fireworks are choreographed and that track is already done,” he said.
In response, Meehan reiterated his earlier sentiment.
“They’re the exact same fireworks in both locations, so I don’t understand why you couldn’t use the same track,” he said.
Councilman Matt James said two full days should allow sufficient time for the musical revisions.
“I would think with exactly 48 hours they could get it done,” he said. “Especially if it’s the same show up north and downtown.”
Hartman made a motion to, if possible, amend the music this year and in future years assure all Fourth of July firework displays have a patriotic theme regardless of location.
Councilman Tony DeLuca seconded the motion with a “sense of urgency,” before the measure gained unanimous council approval.