After cancelling the city's annual Independence Day fireworks show for the first time in 50 years earlier this year, the Palm Springs City Council voted 4-0 Thursday evening to direct city staff to allow the show again.
The vote did not provide blanket approval for all fireworks displays to be permitted in Palm Springs. Rather, it simply allowed for consensus on a proposal by Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton that city staff allow permits specifically for the city’s traditional Independence Day and Veterans Day fireworks shows. Staff was also asked to study the impacts of a handful of other shows typically permitted each year in the city.
Thursday evening’s move followed pushback from veterans and others in the community who were caught off guard in May when, by a 3-2 vote, the Council refused to approve money for fireworks at the city’s annual July 4 celebration. The funding was part of the Council’s consent agenda on the evening of May 6, which is typically approved without discussion. But after brief testimony from animal advocates, the funding item was pulled from the agenda by Councilmember Geoff Kors and subsequently voted down. Kors was not present for the vote Thursday evening.
“I really don’t want to revisit what happened in May,” Middleton said Thursday. “It was a difficult evening, followed by many, many difficult conversations and emails that each and every one of us received.”
Middleton’s proposal came with stipulations that staff work to minimize the impact of the fireworks displays on animals by providing exact times for the shows so that those who have animal companions can make arrangements to shelter them from the noise.
“The stories that they tell of the distress, the hurt that so many pets in our community have gone through as a results of the numerous fireworks displays are real and true,” Middleton said during deliberations on the issue. “Anyone who has seen an animal suffering because of the sounds knows of what I speak of.”
Still, Middleton said, allowing fireworks on July 4 and Veterans Day is the right thing to do for, “the men and women who put their lives at risk wearing our country’s uniform and for whom their sense of patriotism is absolutely fundamental to who they are.”
“Each and every one of those individuals love this country and love this city, and their patriotism should never be questioned,” she said. “I think we have overindulged in having far too many events of which fireworks are used. But there are two days that are absolutely fundamental to the celebration of the patriotism of this country — the Fourth of July and Veterans Day.”