Lexington second best town for July 4 fireworks: Survey

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – It seems like everyone has a study or raking of some kind. And some are more scientific than others.

But regardless, communities use rankings to promote themselves just about anyway they can.

Tourism experts tout great places to visit. Real estate professionals boast about low crime rates, great places to live and affordability. College recruiters are proud of academic rankings but try to stay away from est party schools.

But just abut everyone looks at rankings every once in a while.

This week, Lexington is near the top of at least one list and at this time of year, it’s a good one.

Lawnstarter, a national lawn care service, analyzed the biggest 100 U.S. cities to see how they’ll celebrate the Fourth of July in the coronavirus era, and which cities are the best for enjoying a fun — and safe — 244th birthday bash for America.

Some cities fizzled, but some still sparkle, according to the company’s list.

Lexington is in the sparkle category, ranking second in the country behind only Fort Wayne, Ind. Lexington this year is going forward with its fireworks display from the railyard downtown. City leaders are encouraging people to watch from home — the fireworks are visible from a distance — or by parking somewhere downtown and watching from vehicles.

Fort Wayne, Ind., ranks as America’s top spot, boosted by an expected beautiful day and a 10 p.m. fireworks spectacular at the Indiana Michigan Power Center downtown.

“We wanted to give residents something to look forward to as we continue to work through the challenges of COVID-19,” said Mayor Tom Henry in a news release. “We encourage the public to use good judgment and practice social distancing at the event. Together, we can have a safe and enjoyable time. We have a lot to be thankful for in the City of Fort Wayne.”

Of the 100 largest U.S. cities, just 17 have a public fireworks event this year; 83 will not, the survey found.

All 10 of the largest cities in the United States canceled or downsized their traditional July celebrations. Most canceled events entirely, nixing both the gathering and the fireworks. Some canceled the crowd event but will let the fireworks go on in some fashion. Cities that canceled their big 2020 firework shows include PhiladelphiaChicagoLos AngelesSan DiegoDallas, PhoenixSan Jose, and San Antonio.

In many cases, other nearby cities in the metro area will have smaller July 4th fireworks displays.

Other major metros that have canceled their big, traditional Independence Day celebrations events include AtlantaBostonSan Francisco, and Seattle. In Washington, D.C., the traditional Fourth of July parade is off, but a small, made-for-TV event will be held on the White House South Lawn with live music and a fireworks display over the National Mall.

In Houston, the annual street festival is off, but the fireworks display will go on. New York City’s traditional Macy’s fireworks spectacular has been canceled. Instead, the city broke the celebration into pieces, with smaller fireworks displays for each borough. To prevent crowding during the pandemic, each display will be an unannounced surprise.

Can’t go to a public event? In most cities allow some kind of DIY alternative. More than 60% of cities allow people to set off at least some kinds of fireworks, with 62 cities allowing them and 38 banning them outright.

Talk about duds: Thirty cities have no public celebration, and also forbid anyone from lighting their own July fireworks. They are:

Want a big gathering? Beware: Seventy cities limit the size of public gatherings. The most common limit is 50 people (26 cities) another 19 limit gatherings to 100 people. But don’t invite the extended family to a party in Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, or Madison, Wis.

They are among the eight cities that limit gatherings to 10 people. At the other end of the scale, two Nebraska cities — Omaha and Lincoln — are OK with gatherings of 10,000. Another 30 cities have no crowd size limits at all.

For those who do want to go out in public for a fireworks show, bring a face mask. Nearly all cities recommend wearing a face mask in public places where social distancing will be nearly impossible. Just three — San Jose, Calif., Raleigh, N.C., and St. Paul, Minn. — have no such recommendation, according to the survey and that could change by the time July 4 actually arrives as the pandemic surges in some areas.

The company’s findings echo that of other recent research. From bees to Roman candles to bottle rockets, sales skyrocketed at roadside firework stands.

The National Retail Federation also finds that 2020’s Fourth of July will have as much pop as a damp firecracker. Its survey of 7,762 consumers finds that people are far less likely to attend fireworks or community celebrations or attend a parade.

In all, the NRF says, 24% of Americans will not celebrate the event at all in 2020 — a rise of 10 percentage points from 2019.

Seth Ash Nadler, political science professor at Touro College in New York, knows his Declaration of Independence, right down to the order the Founding Fathers signed it (in geographic order, from northern colonials south).

He says he hopes the smaller scale of this July’s event will have a positive effect. It may give people room to think about liberty, he says, and the price Americans paid to obtain and keep it.

“Because it’s a smaller-scale celebration, it’s a chance to internalize what the holiday means, and the philosophical underpinnings of our freedoms, and how we got here,” he says.

Attending Fourth of July celebrations has long-lasting effects: It correlates with people voting more frequently, and becoming Republican. That’s according to the paper “Shaping the Nation: The Effect of Fourth of July on Political Preferences and Behavior in the United States.”

Co-author David Yanagizawa-Drott wrote the paper while at Harvard’s Kennedy School before going on to teach economics at the University of Zurich. He is hesitant to say that this year’s diminished Fourth will have much effect on celebrants’ permanent attitudes.

“What the effects will be this year I think is a much more open question,” he wrote in an email to LawnStarter. That’s because the event also takes place in the midst of a pandemic, protests and social movements, he says.

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