Firework shows are expected to be a celebration of the past by 2025. Enjoy the multi-sensory excitement of those booming bright lights in the sky while you can.
There are three main reasons why cities around the world are goodbye to firework shows.
There’s a nationwide industry shortage of fireworks supplies and staffing qualified Pyrotechnicians.
For some, that means rescheduling fireworks shows, something that had to be done in Ocean City and College Park, in Maryland. For others, it means having to cancel the show entirely, which was the case at Lake Meredith, in Texas.
“The firework industry was completely crippled in 2020,” said Julie Heckman, the American Pyrotechnic Association’s executive director. Heckman said the industry lost 90% of their revenues.
Until staffing capacity is back to normal, communities may have to settle with some compromises like shifted dates or fewer shows.
The fireworks shortage that has plagued shoppers over the past two years seems to have run its course, but the industry isn’t done with supply chain interruptions yet. Experts warn that an increase in shipping rates, raw materials and labor costs amid the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a steep price increase for fireworks this year.
Suppliers say it’s getting more expensive to bring in fireworks into the U.S. and sell them to consumers. Overall costs are up 35% across the fireworks industry, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association, which represents the consumer fireworks industry. An April report from the trade association points to increased costs for raw materials, shipping and transportation, insurance and labor.
The cancellation of public firework shows in 2020 and 2021 prompted a dramatic increase in firework sales as families turned to at-home displays. That surge in demand, paired with supply chain problems, led to two consecutive years of firework shortages.
You can save on fireworks from Memorial Day weekend through the end of summer, so shopping early can help cut costs.
2. Fire Risks
In Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and other states in the Southwest, a number of cities have cancelled firework shows due to dry conditions that could lead to fires. Fireworks started 19,500 fires in 2018, including 1,900 building fires, 500 vehicle fires and 17,100 other fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Stay safe and please pay attention to county burn bans.
3. Drone Shows
Finally, there’s an appealing alternative to traditional pyrotechnics. As communities ban fireworks because of drought, a small but growing number are turning to nighttime drone shows and laser displays as the flagship entertainment.
Demand for these alternative shows is so high that companies say they’re completely booked — and have been for months, leaving lots of late-to-the-table communities out of luck if they don’t make the switch soon.
While drones are more expensive than fireworks — typically starting at $25,000 compared to as little as $2,000 for a small-town fireworks show — they’re billed as safer, cleaner, and more customizable.
The fireworks industry reaped $262 million in revenue from public displays and $2.2 billion from consumer purchases in 2021, per the American Pyrotechnics Association.
The shift away from fireworks is worldwide. India and China — widely billed as the birthplace of fireworks — are also cracking down on their use.
Drones aren’t yet a serious threat to the industry, the group’s executive director, Julie Heckman, told Reuters — and they lack the “multisensory” experience (the smoke smell, the explosive crackle) and they’re “pretty” but “kind of boring,” she said.