After some debate, the City Council eventually decided to hold the city of St. Joseph Fireworks Show this year.
During budget talks in April, the City Manager Bruce Woody advised the council not to hold the display this July 4 in order to save $15,000 in the Gaming fund. That fund is fed through the casino, which was closed for a large portion of 2019 due to flooding, and for a portion of this year due to COVID-19, leaving it with around $200,000 less in income than normal.
Woody also felt that allowing people to gather en masse for Independence Day may not be safe due to the pandemic.
Last week, the City Council approved the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, including the full amount to pay for the fireworks show.
Several council members felt that the tradition must go on, including Kent O’Dell, who said the event allows for social distancing and is a needed break from current events.
“This is something that you could easily social distance, so, it’s a no-brainer,” O’Dell said. “We need to have something to look forward to, some kind of celebration, because this town’s been cooped up for a long time and everybody’s been abiding by the rules and if they ever deserved a fireworks show, this is the year they do.”
O’Dell said the display can be seen from “miles around” and if people want to keep their distance from one another they can do so with ease.
At one point, the council discussed approaching the Buchanan County government to pay for half of the display. Director of Parks, Recreation and Civic Facilities Chuck Kempf said the city is paying for the display in its entirety, but he isn’t even sure that the county was approached and that plan may have been dropped.
Kemp said the process to plan the show takes months, and the Parks Department was already on top of it just in case the funds were approved.
“We have to get out in front of that and plan it because we have to bid it out,” Kempf said. “We go through that process and are a little bit vulnerable because of the fact that the money doesn’t get approved until after you’ve gone through the procurement process.”
An agreement with a pyrotechnical company out of Joplin, Missouri, was approved.
The annual display typically starts around 9 p.m. with parking available at the Remington Nature Center and Heritage Park parking lots, 1502 McArthur Drive and 2202 Waterworks Road.
In case of inclement weather, the show usually takes place the next clear night.