Dry conditions force Monticello to cancel its fireworks show

Dry conditions force Monticello to cancel its fireworks show

MONTICELLO — Organizers of the Monticello Freedom Festival have joined several other Illinois communities in canceling fireworks because of exceptionally dry conditions.

Tuesday's show planned for Lodge Park north of town will not be rescheduled.

"They decided to cancel this year and not have it at all. There's just too much potential for fire there," said John Hammond, who works for DCV Imports of Lincoln and sets off the show at Lodge Park.

"There's a woods in back and dry stuff underneath. If something would get in there from the fireworks, it could be a catastrophe," Hammond said. "Even if we would get a lot of rain and soak the ground, it still wouldn't be enough time to get that grass green between now and Tuesday. That's why we decided to cancel."

Debby McPheeters, president of the Monticello Freedom Festival, said organizers made the decision Saturday afternoon.

"I'm kind of bummed out about it myself," said McPheeters, who got to see fireworks at Tolono Fun Days on Saturday night.

She said because the event includes food vendors, who by now have most summer weekends booked, it was just too difficult to try to reschedule the event for later in the summer.

McPheeters said the fireworks show cost $9,800. Organizers still had to pay $2,000 for insurance and 11 percent of the show even though they decided not to have it, so 2013's show will start a little in the hole.

"It's all strictly by donation. Hopefully, we'll keep what we had gathered and pay the bills we had," McPheeters said.

"We'll plan to have a great fireworks next year," she said.

Other Illinois communities that have opted not to have fireworks this week include Paris, Plainfield, Harrisburg, Mount Pulaski and Murphysboro.

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