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Public session to be held over Suns' fireworks displays

November 16, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN

andrews@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Suns have planned 14 fireworks shows for next season - the same as this season - but need the City Council's approval first.

The council will hold a special session on the issue Nov. 29, hoping to hear from the public before making a decision.

Some residents who live near Municipal Stadium complained last year about the volume and frequency of the fireworks shows.

Kurt Landes, the Suns general manager, told the City Council Tuesday that taking away fireworks shows would be "crippling" for the team.

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Although fireworks games are about 20 percent of the home schedule, they produce about 30 percent of the attendance, Landes said.

City Council members, though, questioned Landes on necessity, debris and noise.

The city's noise ordinance exempts fireworks that the City Council approves.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire suggested giving the public a chance to weigh in on the 2006 fireworks schedule.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the council could wait until December to vote. However, Landes said it would delay the team's marketing, so Mayor Richard F. Trump called for the Nov. 29 special session.

Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean said 14 nights of fireworks is a lot.

But Landes said it's a typical number.

"It's just asking for the opportunity to operate like any other minor league baseball team," he said.

Landes said the Suns put limits on fireworks after neighbors complained.

"Salutes," or loud explosions with no lights, were eliminated. Shows are no longer than 12 or 13 minutes. Only games on weekend or holiday nights may have fireworks.

Parson-McBean said people have complained to her about firework debris that landed in their yards. That only happened once, Landes replied, but if it happens again, the team will clean it up, "no questions asked."

Landes also said the team only got one complaint about its fireworks shows in four years, which he called "a pretty good track record."

Council members pressed Landes about the night the team held a fireworks show after 11 p.m. Landes said it was an unusual event caused by a rain delay and extra innings in the game.

Council members also told Landes that they've heard more favorable comments than negative comments about the fireworks shows lately.

Next season's tentative schedule includes three straight fireworks nights around July 4. Landes said he would change that if the council objects.

Trump noted that people are more likely to expect fireworks around July 4.

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