By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon city officials will negotiate a discount or credit for a fireworks’ show that suddenly ended midway through.
Safety concerns forced the City of Yukon’s fireworks vendor to stop the July 4th “Freedom Fest 2022” display early – to the disappointment of many festivalgoers gathered in and around the Yukon City Park complex.
A 6-inch shell had discharged while still in the mortar on Monday night.
“It knocked down the rest of the fireworks and caused a fire on the trailer,” Yukon City Manager Tammy Kretchmar said. “There were active shells still located on that trailer.”
The Yukon Fire Department was on the scene immediately to extinguish the fire. No injuries were reported.
ARC Pyrotechnics, which presented Yukon fireworks shows July 3 and July 4, is investigating what caused the shell to discharge early.
“This could be a product of malfunction or, potentially, user error,” Kretchmar added. “Investigation typically takes around one week to conclude.”
ARC Pyrotechnics has contracted with the City of Yukon for several years to provide Freedom Fest’s supervised fireworks displays. The Guthrie company is paid $39,900 for two shows.
The contract called for Yukon to pay ARC Pyrotechnics $22,500 for a July 4th display lasting 20-23 minutes and $17,400 for a July 3rd display lasting 15-18 minutes.
The July 4th Freedom Fest show ended after about 12 minutes.
“Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, since we did not receive our full fireworks show on the 4th, we will have the option of the following: A credit toward a future fireworks’ show with ARC Pyrotechnics or a partial refund on the contract for the July 4th show,” Kretchmar explained.
“The financial figure is to be negotiated.”
There was just “one minor hiccup” with the Sunday, July 3rd fireworks display, she noted.
“There was a shell that fired very early, and it knocked some of the other shells down,” Kretchmar said. “But we were able to complete all of the fireworks and there weren’t any problems.”
Mayor Shelli Selby is pleased the City of Yukon will receive “some type of compensation” for the abbreviated July 4th fireworks.
“It was a very big disappointment to all of the residents, but safety comes first,” Selby said. “I’m glad that nobody was hurt and that our firefighters were right there and were ‘on top’ of the fire that did happen so nothing was destroyed.”
Handling fireworks is a serious risk – and the mayor says that’s why it’s illegal for private citizens to possess or discharge them in Yukon.
“You’re dealing with high-power ammunition, basically,” Selby noted.
Despite the July 4th fireworks mishap, Yukon’s elected leaders agreed that Freedom Fest was an overall success.
“It was amazing,” Selby said. “We had a huge turnout. The employees just went ‘over and above’.”
Vice Mayor Jeff Wootton was “very impressed” with the efforts of the City of Yukon’s young adult seasonal staff members July 3-4.
“It was a thousand degrees out there and they all had smiles and were doing everything they could do to make it the best they could,” Wootton said.
Ward 1 Council Member Rodney Zimmerman agreed, calling Freedom Fest an “outstanding” event.
“A lot of the kids I know from the high school were doing a fantastic job just taking care of business,” Zimmerman added.
Ward 4 Council Member Aric Gilliland thanked Yukon’s military veterans for the sacrifices they’ve made that allowed him to watch his own children “run and play” during a presentation of “Taps” at the Yukon Veterans Tribute.