Opinion: As we draw close to the Fourth of July weekend, I searched on social media and other outlets to determine when and where Sparks in the Park would be this year. What I found has somewhat disturbed me. Texarkana United, which appears to be an exceptional organization in Texarkana, is holding a Fourth of July event in downtown Texarkana. According to their Facebook page, it will be to celebrate God and our country.
In a video released by the group, they stated there “will be fireworks over the city of Texarkana” during the event downtown on the 4th of July. The video released roughly 16 hours ago by Texarkana United said the fireworks would go off over the city of Texarkana from a “private location” and “it will not be a public event.” Further reports in various groups on Facebook stated that the fireworks used would be “Quiet Fireworks” or “Silent Fireworks.” Several other posts have indicated they have permission to shoot the fireworks off from Poindexter Sportsplex, also known as Hobo Jungle.
I am disturbed not because of the fireworks display, but because of the potential location to launch this display. If the Poindexter Sportsplex (Hobo Jungle) is used, this will be very close to the Texarkana Animal Shelter. Any dog or animal lover will tell you that loud noises such as thunderstorms, gunshots, and fireworks scare animals. Dogs are especially sensitive to these noises. It hurts their ears, scares them, causes them to shake and tremble, and can cause heart attacks and death in extreme cases. These animals already live in a scary environment. They are often alone, abandoned, lost, and surrounded by other animals. They are locked in cages and sometimes have little human contact. Simply put, a dog in an animal shelter can live life in fear daily by simply being alone and without a loving family. To have these dogs and other animals such as cats at the shelter hearing a fireworks display being launched from just across the railroad track is nothing short of cruelty.
I am bothered by the solution I am seeing posted. This concept of silent fireworks is not valid. There are no silent fireworks. A quick search on the Internet and a view of displays will demonstrate that these “So-called” silent fireworks can at best be called “Not as loud” fireworks. They still make noise. Most sites like Soopes.com indicates that “Quiet fireworks are not completely silent, but they are nowhere near the 120-decibel cap placed on consumer fireworks in Britain.” If you have ever been around dogs during a thunderstorm, then you know that the thunder right overhead often has the same outcome as thunder in the distance. The dog is scared because it is a loud “boom,” regardless of how loud it is in decibels. Simply put, there are no “Silent” fireworks.
Another thing that bothers me is the video on Texarkana United’s site, indicating the fireworks would be launched from a “private location.” Why the words “private location”? Before it was openly being said, they would start from the park across from the shelter. In the past, they have launched from the Four States Fairgrounds or other known locations. Even at football games around the area, the launch site has been known. The statement “private location” sounds to me like a nice way of saying, “We may have moved, but it may still be close to the shelter, so we’re just not going to tell you,” or “We have not moved, but we are not going to acknowledge that it’s still at the park.” Either way, the use of the words a “private location” clearly sounds like an ambiguous language move to avoid telling the public where the fireworks will be launched from to be seen over Texarkana.
Hopefully, Texarkana United has moved the launch for the display away from the animal shelter. As stated, the organization has a good reputation with a great group of people and local churches supporting it. Our city has made good decisions in the past concerning fireworks displays and safety. We just need to make sure we move forward with good choices. I am confident that nobody wants Texarkana or any organization to have a reputation for allowing cruelty to animals.