No July 4 fireworks in city after 3-2 vote against funding annual show

Funds to pay for fireworks on July 4 in Palm Springs were voted down Thursday by a 3-2 vote of the City Council.

For the second straight year there will be no Fourth of July fireworks show in Palm Springs. But unlike 2020, the pandemic is not to blame.

The Palm Springs City Council voted 3-2 Thursday evening against allocating $55,000 for a July 4 celebration in the city involving fireworks, directing city staff to instead explore an alternate event on that date. More than $30,000 of the funds would have been given to Pyro Spectacular, Inc., to provide the fireworks display. The move followed public testimony by residents against fireworks displays.

“Spending $30,000 on old-school fireworks is not keeping with what we want our city to be,” one of three speakers said. “I would love to see us have an event that we’re excited about. Instead, we’re buying $30,000 worth of air pollution, and $30,000 worth of noise pollution.”

Mayor Christy Holstege and Councilmember Grace Garner voted in favor of the show. Councilmembers Geoff Kors and Dennis Woods, along with Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton voted against the show. It will be the first time in 50 years the city has not helped fund a fireworks show. Last year’s event was cancelled due to safety concerns over COVID-19.

“Are you really going to cancel the Fourth of July two months before the event?” Holstege asked after the vote. “This is a 50-year event in the City of Palm Springs. I would hate to see us do nothing. This is really a travesty.”

Garner, citing the impact cancelling the show would have on low-income families looking forward to a free community event once COVID-19 restrictions are fully lifted, added: “I grew up here and this is one of the events the people look forward to the most.”

Kors countered that the city is “not cancelling the holiday,” and will still try to host a free event for the community on July 4. He then joined Middleton and Woods in voting to allocate all $55,000 for a July 4 event, if city staff can find vendors on what may be short notice.

“I really think trying to do something is important,” Kors said. “We want to see city funded events that are free for our community. However, as has been raised, we’ve had concerns raised over the impacts to animals, those who suffer from PTSD and others, and the toxins left by fireworks. I’d like to see if there is more time to look into other events.”


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