The resurrection of Stockton’s municipal fireworks celebration seems to be coming along. One influential person in City Hall who may oppose them, however, is Interim City Manager Kevin O’Rourke.
O’Rourke did not express opposition when I interviewed him for the column about Councillman Dale Fritchen’s proposal to restore them. Not exactly. What he did say is he had trouble with them while city manager of Buena Park in the ’90s. Buena Park is the location of Knott’s Berry Farm.
“We have a regional mall which sits within view of fireworks at Knott’s Berry Farm,” O’Rourke said in remarks I did not publish. The public gathered in its parking lot to watch the theme park’s fireworks show. “People brought them anyway,” O’Rourke said, “since you could buy these fireworks in Buena Park, Anaheim, Whittier, Cerritos, the Los Angeles cities nearest.
“We got several thousand people who would come with their famalies into the parking lot … sit there watching the fireworks, and set off all of the fireworks they brought in. There were qute a lot of problems — police, medical.”
If O’Rourke does oppose a municipal fireworks show based on his experience in Buena Park, then the data from that city’s July 3rd or 4th celebrations ought to be researched and not conveyed into the debate anecdotally. Get the numbers. That way the Council can dispassionately see how many problems ”quite a lot” is and whether the risks are outweighed by the benefits of a joyous, patriotic celebration that brings everyone together.