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EDITORIAL: New policy will ensure shows don’t disappoint

After getting negative feedback from an abbreviated fireworks show on New Year's Eve, the Town of Okotoks has devised reasonable timelines for such displays.
Onlookers watch as New Year's Eve fireworks are set off at Lineham Park in Okotoks on Dec. 31.

It’s all about consistency and managing expectations. 

The Town of Okotoks ushered in 2023 with a fireworks show that was, to put it politely, a little underwhelming. It wasn’t so much the quality of the colourful explosions in the night sky that was the issue, but rather the duration of the display, which clocked in under five minutes.  

You might expect something of that length when all the families on the block chip in a few bucks at Halloween, but when the Town goes to the trouble of hosting a public show, the assumption is that it won’t be over before you can find a better vantage point to watch. 

It didn’t help matters that just over a month earlier, when Light Up Okotoks welcomed the holiday season, the accompanying fireworks display went on for what seemed like forever, so it’s only natural that expectations for New Year’s Eve were heightened. 

After many Okotokians expressed their disappointment with the way in which the new year was rung in, Town officials have since committed to some consistency, so moving forward, fireworks shows on New Year’s Eve and Canada Day will be seven-and-a-half minutes, while Light Up will be double that length. 

It seems like a reasonable approach as not only does it provide a firm timeline, but it also limits the amount of our tax dollars that are shot into the sky in the name of celebration. Fireworks are an expensive undertaking so although some might classify the shows as free entertainment given there’s no admission charge, the money still must come from somewhere. 

Town leaders are tasked with managing the public purse, so they must weigh cost versus benefit of any expenditure, a calculus that ended up shelving the calendar that had previously been delivered to homes every January. Thankfully fireworks didn’t meet the same fate, but civic officials now know if they’re to continue to offer them, the public has certain expectations when it comes to displays.