New ordinance allows city to cancel or reschedule fireworks displays, bans floating lanterns

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The city of Manhattan recently amended its fireworks ordinance, under which Manhattan residents are only allowed to shoot off fireworks from July 1 to July 4 from 8 a.m. to midnight.

The amendments, which were approved April 2, include banning the use of aerial luminaries, or floating lanterns, as well as granting the city manager the right to cancel and/or reschedule fireworks shows.

For example, if there is inclement weather on July 4, the city manager can allow residents to shoot them off the following Saturday from 8 a.m. to midnight instead. The amendment would also allow the city manager to cancel fireworks displays due to extremely dry weather and burn bans.

John Matta, mayor of Manhattan, said one of the problems with fireworks is that people set them off at times when they disturb others.

“There are problems with fireworks even during the Fourth of July,” Matta said.

Matta also explained that the ordinance, which allows fireworks displays at other times with the proper permit, is in place to allow residents some leniency in their celebrations.

“This allows some to have fun with fireworks,” he said.

Throughout the year, businesses can apply for special permission to shoot off fireworks; however, residents cannot. For example, New Year’s Eve in Manhattan is celebrated each year with the Little Apple New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in Aggieville. Businesses apply to the city of Manhattan for permission to set up and shoot off fireworks for the occasion.

Matta clarified that when a business applies for permission to shoot fireworks, the Manhattan Fire Department is involved with the process. It also helps regulate firework sales within the city.

“We regulate sales and make sure they are legal,” said Manhattan Fire Marshal Rick Stillwagon. “Usually the only time we allow them for the public is the first through the Fourth [of July].”

According to Matta, if residents are caught shooting fireworks outside of the days and times designated within the ordinance, they are subject to criminal enforcement. According to Stillwagon, the Riley County Police Department enforces the city ordinance.

Alex Vo, freshman in biological systems engineering, thinks that this ordinance is here to stay.

“Blowing stuff up is a special, once-a-year type of thing, like Christmas,” Vo said.

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