Fireworks displays are typically big crowd-pleasers, but an Osyka couple brought complaints to the board of aldermen’s meeting Thursday about the December Christmas Fest show.
Tom and Paula Soniat said the perimeter from the staging area was too close to their home, which allowed debris from fired shells, including one that did not explode as expected, to land on their home and property.
“We don’t want the fireworks to be held there again,” Tom Soniat said. “It was too close to dwellings. Embers fell on our roof.”
“There were kids running around,” Paula Soniat added. “It’s a wonder some of them weren’t hit” by falling debris.
Mayor Allen Applewhite said he ended up watching the fireworks from within the perimeter after returning from out of town and not hearing that the staging and viewing areas had been shifted.
“I had to move once,” Applewhite said. A streamer “came in hot through the cedar tree.”
Osyka Civic Club member Kim Wall and Jack Terrell, a representative of Artisan Pyrotechnics of Wiggins, said the company is certified to present fireworks shows and follows all state and federal guidelines for putting on those shows.
Both said the staging area for Osyka’s show was beyond the National Fire Prevention Association limits for safe firing, avoiding structures, trees and power lines.
Finding a suitable place was difficult to begin with because of meeting those guidelines, Wall said.
“We’ve been all over town,” Wall said. “We’re about out of places we can do this.”
Applewhite said the problem would be solved if the staging area could be moved about 100 feet south, but Wall and Terrell said there is a building that would be too close if the staging area were moved in that direction.
Gerald Griffin, chief of the Osyka Volunteer Fire Department, said he had men and trucks stationed at various places in town to ensure they could respond quickly if needed.
“Embers are no problem,” Griffin said. “When they come down, they go out quick.”
Terrell said unexpected things can happen, because the wind at 250 feet in the air may behave differently from the wind at ground level. He said the company tries to have more than the minimum recommended distance from any potential hazards because of that.
“We can’t control the wind,” Wall said.
Terrell looked at the at the unexploded fireworks shell and kept it to be examined, over protests by Tom Soniat, who refused to turn over other debris that landed in his yard.
Wall and Terrell agreed to meet with the board later in the year to consider possible alternate sites.