COLLEGE PARK, Md. — A shortage of qualified pyrotechnic workers has resulted in the rescheduling or cancellation of Independence Day fireworks displays in some of the region's communities, according to local officials.
Fireworks displays have been rescheduled in Ocean City, Maryland, Vienna, Virginia, and the City of Fairfax from July 4 to other dates. Authorities in College Park, Maryland have decided to cancel altogether.
In College Park, city officials announced the contractor they depend on to put on fireworks shows couldn’t guarantee it would have all the supplies or employees needed to stage a show.
The city, in partnership with the University of Maryland, where the display is normally set up decided to pull the plug, officials said.
The focus on Independence Day in College Park will now shift to the restoration of a community parade on Rhode Island Avenue that was first staged in 1957, and hasn't been conducted since the mid-1990s.
Alaina Pitt, President of the North College Park Community Association, called the cancellation of the fireworks display "really disappointing."
'It's a big event, but the city is bringing back the Fourth of July parade this year. And I'm really excited for that," Pitt said. "I think there's going to be really good turnout and some fun acts. So it's a focus on a different thing this year. But I think they complement each other. Hopefully, in the future, we can do both.”
Justin Shea, an investigator at Prince George’s County’s Fire Marshall’s Office is reminding residents that all backyard fireworks in the county are illegal and should not be an alternative to local displays that might be canceled or postponed.
Shea said pyrotechnic contractors face hurdles in staffing.
“There's a certification in order to set off pyrotechnics in the state of Maryland. These individuals carry that certification. They also know what to do if something were to not explode or not go off when they set it off," Shea said.