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The University should add periods to the list of legitimate excuses.
Opinion: Period predicament
Published November 27, 2023

Minneapolis celebrates Aquatennial with fireworks after rowdy Fourth of July

The Stone Arch Bridge closed again, this time to serve as a launch pad for Saturday’s Aquatennial fireworks show.
Image by Photo by Gustav DeMars
Fireworks explode in the air at the Aquatennial fireworks show on July 22, 2023.

Just over two weeks after another Fourth of July marked by disturbances involving fireworks, Minneapolis celebrated the Aquatennial with a fireworks show on the Stone Arch Bridge.

According to the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB), the Stone Arch Bridge was closed from 10 a.m. Friday to 2 a.m. Sunday. Minneapolis Downtown Council, the organization in charge of the Aquatennial, said the bridge will be closed for the show’s fireworks footprint.

The Aquatennial began using the bridge as a launch point in 2021, according to the Minneapolis Downtown Council. KSTP reported the pyrotechnic setup for what has been advertised as a top-five fireworks display in the country takes at least four days to set up.

The bridge closed earlier this month over the Fourth of July weekend, a closure MPRB said was a safety measure. 

“Last year, large Fourth of July gatherings in riverfront parks and neighborhoods created unsafe, chaotic situations,” MPRB said in a public announcement leading up to this year’s celebrations. “This proactive measure will help park staff and public safety agencies better manage crowds and safety during a very busy time for riverfront parks and neighborhoods.”

Fourth of July 2022 saw police responding to more than 1,000 calls and a shooting at Boom Island Park that injured seven people.

The bridge was initially set to close at 8 p.m., prompting backlash from the community. However, soon after MPRB’s initial announcement, the board released another announcement responding to community requests, saying the closure time would be moved to 10 p.m.

This year’s Fourth of July

July 4, 2023 once again saw police responding to fireworks disturbances across the city, leading to the arrests of 16 people, almost all of whom were minors.

Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) Chief Brian O’Hara spoke the day after the holiday, condemning the actions of those shooting fireworks at people and cars.

“The targeting of innocent people with fireworks is unlawful, dangerous and wholly unacceptable,” O’Hara said. “As we saw last night, this behavior is not only a danger to the targets of this unlawful behavior, but it’s also a danger to those who chose to engage in this behavior themselves.”

Minneapolis 911 dispatch received nearly 1,200 calls in seven hours after 9 p.m. the night of July 4, according to an email statement to the Minnesota Daily from MPD spokesperson Garrett Parten, a number he said is comparable to what 911 dispatch typically receives in a 24-hour period.

Boom Island Park, Lake Bde Maka Ska, St. Anthony Main, Minnehaha Regional Park and the 3700 block of Cedar were areas where police responded to firework disturbances, according to Parten.

Fireworks post-pandemic

According to a 2021 release from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), municipalities canceling July 4 fireworks displays during the pandemic may have driven more people to use fireworks on their own. The CPSC report found a 50% increase in fireworks-related deaths and injuries in 2020 when compared to the previous year.

Two years later, CPSC data shows fireworks-related injuries are at a number similar to 2019.

Minnesota allows only sparklers and small novelty fireworks to be sold and used –– anything aerial or explosive is illegal, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

CPSC spokesperson Karla Crosswhite-Chigbue warned against illegal fireworks in an email statement to the Minnesota Daily. 

“Our advice is don’t use them and don’t buy them,” Crosswhite-Chigbue said.

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