SLC mayor says improving air quality trumps need for rockets’ red glare on holidays

SALT LAKE CITY — One of Salt Lake City’s most cherished traditions is in jeopardy of being canceled.

In order to make a statement for clean air, Mayor Ralph Becker has proposed eliminating all city-funded fireworks displays.

“All of the council members are doing a lot of soul searching right now about what’s the right path to take here,” said Kyle LaMalfa, a member of the Salt Lake City Council.

Currently the city holds two displays a year: One at Jordan Park for the Fourth of July and one at Liberty Park for Pioneer Day.

The city budget for those two displays is $25,000.

“The amount of money the city uses to purchase the fireworks is pretty miniscule compared to the city budget as a whole,” LaMalfa said. “What the mayor has done, most of all, is provoke a discussion about how far we are going to go to help clean up the air.”

Some citizens are upset about the prospect of losing the fireworks, while others welcome the idea.

“Well I grew up here so that’s part of growing up in Salt Lake City; I would hate to see those go away due to air pollution,” said one resident.

“Fourth of July fireworks is a red, white and blue tradition, and I’d be really sad to see them go,” said another resident.

Cherise Udell, president of Utah Moms for Clean Air, said, for her, family health outweighs tradition.

“If you look, every Fourth of July, every July 24th here in Utah you will see these big spikes in PM2.5 along with the ozone after we’ve had an episode in fireworks,” Udell said. “I know a lot of the Utah Moms for Clean Air members choose specifically to be gone on the Fourth of July weekend because of how nasty the air gets.”

LaMalfa said he realizes the affect this decision will have on the entire community.

“I’m leaning toward saving the fireworks,” LaMalfa said.

The Salt Lake City Council will be discussing the matter during their June 3 budget hearing at City Hall at 7 p.m. The public is invited to attend and share their opinions.

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