Reduced costs and increased safety are just two of the reasons the Bowie City Council, staff and police department are hailing the city’s relocation of the annual Fourth of July celebration and fireworks a success.
In a departure from decades of tradition, the city’s Independence Day festivities were relocated from Allen Pond Park to Prince George’s Stadium. Approximately 9,000 people attended this year’s event.
Reasons for the new venue included safety, capacity, cost and amenities available at the ballpark. However, one major positive of the event from a staff perspective was the cost savings.
“Staff worked with the Baysox organization and used their vendor for the 4th of July fireworks presentation at a cost of $9,000. The City of Bowie’s expenditure for fireworks at Allen Pond Park has historically been $25,000,” Corley wrote in his report to the council.
The city did incur some additional costs that off set the fireworks savings, such as renting as renting the stage and stadium expenses, but the move was more about putting on a better show than saving money, said Corley.
In all, the city saved around $500.
Police incidents, a concern in years past, were almost non-existing at this year’s celebration. That should be reason enough to keep the event at the ballpark, said Bowie Police Chief John Nesky.
“This is the first Fourth of July in three years that I didn’t have to put my hands on anybody,” Nesky said.
From a community services perspective, staff reported that there were some logistical problems, though City Manager David Deutsch felt they were relatively minor.
“We learned some things and there are some changes we would suggest for tweaking it for the next year,” Deutsch said to the council during Monday’s meeting.
One issue was the height of the fireworks. Staff recognized that there need to be more aerial fireworks next year so people from the parking lot and other areas of the city can see the display without entering the stadium.
Residents also expressed concern about the traffic exiting the show. Police reported that it took about two hours to fully clear the parking lot.
“I don’t think any of us anticipated the degree of the success of this program,” Mayor G. Frederick Robinson said, regarding the high volume of traffic. “The rest of that evening was outstanding.”
Police have come up with some possible solutions to the traffic issue, including instituting a temporary traffic pattern that would divert exiting traffic into the oncoming lane to be created on Ballpark Road. This would leave BJ’s and Home Depot with its own dedicated traffic lane to exit on to Route 301.
Deutsch also suggested that the band could perform an encore set following the fireworks to stagger the exiting of patrons.
Overall, staff and council were pleased with the event and hope to host it at Prince George’s Stadium in future years. Deutsch said the Baysox have already welcomed the city back for 2014.
“To say that you guys acquitted your selves quite well on the event is an understatement,” Robinson said.