Fireworks planned for Halloween 2021 are meant to bring the community together and recognize the legacy of Buzz Johnson who passed away earlier in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Johnson was a catalyst for many years of Halloween celebrations, including fireworks, according to a notice of motion by Coun. Dewly Nelson. He also worked as a councillor for the Town of Hinton in the past.
Nelson noted that he has connected with a lot of individuals that have missed the fireworks these past two years and felt this would be a great opportunity to get the community together and create some connectedness.
“Just bring the community together and celebrate and recapture the spirit that was lost in the past two years. As a dad, the halloween thing would be really fun for the kids,” he said.
October provides an earlier sunset which may make the event more accessible to families with young children and seniors, the motion stated. The risk of fire also tends to be lower in October.
“There’s a possibility to still celebrate with fireworks and acknowledge not only Buzz, but other families with losses during COVID-19 as well that weren’t able to come together and be as a family,” said Coun. Trevor Haas.
The budget and fireworks products are being reallocated to this event from the cancelled Canada Day display, resulting in no budgetary implications for the Town of Hinton.
Laura Howarth, acting CAO at the Aug. 24 council meeting, said that the Town of Hinton has worked with the same fireworks provider for the past 18 years. The provider refunded the Town’s money in 2020 when celebrations were cancelled due to the pandemic related restrictions. While a lot of places cancelled fireworks for Canada Day due to truth and reconciliation, Hinton was also hit by an intense heatwave and fire ban.
Howarth noted that if the Town goes back on its agreement with their fireworks provider this year, they may lose the relationship. While fireworks are not yet purchased, they have already been ordered.
When fireworks during Canada Day fell through this year, the Town planned some alternative dates to use the fireworks, including culture days in September. There was also some interest in utilizing the fireworks to acknowledge front line workers.
“We need something happy happening and fireworks, the kids on halloween would just be overjoyed seeing those fireworks,” said Coun. JoAnn Race.
Coun. Albert Ostashek said that while he appreciated the thoughts behind the event, he felt scheduling fireworks entailed much more than just picking a date and would rather leave it up to administration to figure out when to use the fireworks and schedule the pyrotechnics.
Haas asked if there was any other way to pay respect to Johnson and honour his memory more than in one night. Howarth stated that the Town has a policy for naming roads and parks but that it is a potential option. There is also the wall of fame at the Dr. Duncan Murray Recreation Centre or the wall of celebration at the The Performing Arts Theatre of Hinton for cultural pillars, she added.
Mayor Marcel Michaels shared his concern with doing one-off celebrations without a policy, but considered this a great time to host a fireworks event.
Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice