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Columbia Lakefront Fireworks Delay Sparks Controversy

Fireworks started around 10 p.m. on the Fourth of July on Lake Kittamaqundi.

Some attendees described Columbia fireworks as "worth the wait" and "spectacular." (Credit: Deanna Yorke)
Some attendees described Columbia fireworks as "worth the wait" and "spectacular." (Credit: Deanna Yorke)
Not all Columbians were thrilled with their fireworks show on the Fourth of July, and some reported leaving before it started due to an unexplained delay.

A technical issue was the culprit, Howard County officials reported Saturday morning.

Fireworks were advertised to be set off at dusk, and Little Patuxent Parkway was closed after 7:30 p.m. for the display.

However, citizens said they waited, and waited, and there were no fireworks.

"Dear Howard County, I don't think you know what time dusk is. The internet says that it is at 8:36 p.m. For some reason, you think it's 10 p.m..." Bill Russell posted on the Howard County recreation and parks Facebook page.

Some parents said they left because bedtime set in for their children.

"Big delay for Columbia lakefront fireworks. Kids are dozing. Adults are restless. #pleasestart," Joyce Blight of Columbia tweeted at 9:47 p.m.

At 9:15 p.m. on Friday, Councilwoman Courtney Watson reported that the countdown for the fireworks at Lake Kittamaqundi was about to begin. But then there was radio silence.

"It was really difficult on families with small children..." EL wrote on Ellicott City Patch after the event.

Columbia blogger Julia McCready said she had to take her child home. "...I hear the fireworks were great," she wrote. "We headed home after they started because my daughter was exhausted."

Howard County officials said Saturday morning that the problem was technical.

"We do apologize for the delay in the start of the fireworks, which were scheduled for dusk but were pushed back due to a technical issue," Howard County Recreation and Parks posted on Facebook Saturday morning. "We will work to ensure this is corrected for future years."

While many were upset by the delay, others who stayed were wowed by the show when it eventually went on.

"Yay Columbia MD—best fireworks show I have EVER seen!! 30 minutes long and truly spectacular!! Thank you, Howard County!" wrote a Twitter user named Sunny.

Carlos Urtecho of Ellicott City agreed, tweeting at 10:50 p.m.: "Fireworks at Columbia Lakefront were worth the wait!"

Going forward, social media hub HoCoBlogs suggested government officials consider using a unique hashtag for big events to communicate with the public.

There were no tweets from @HoCoGov on July 4; the most recent one as of Saturday afternoon was a reminder about yard waste from Thursday.

Nadine Kaelber July 09, 2014 at 10:07 AM
The delay just isn't a big deal, this was a free (well, sort of) fireworks display. Technical issues happen. If people can't wait for half an hour (I had read the start was going the be at 9:30 online), then they really should be out there. I will however agree that there should have been better communication. One of the people who sat next to me went up to one of the emt/firefighters and asked about why the fireworks hadn't started yet, and the answer he got was that 'it wasn't dark enough yet" ..... which, obviously, was ridiculous, so even when you did try to get info, you didn't get any. I thought the display was great in any case.
EL July 09, 2014 at 10:20 AM
It was a great display. And in the scheme of things, yes, the delay wasn't a big deal. But it was odd for it to start so late, it was odd to see Courtney Watson and her police escort walk towards the "main stage" area...and then leave and still no fireworks. So a forum like the Patch is a good place to ask the questions.
rlp July 09, 2014 at 12:35 PM
I really just cannot believe how much people complain about things. Have we turned into a society where we insist everything is perfect. This is life people. Get over it.
EL July 09, 2014 at 05:07 PM
Funny, I thought people were asking questions and making suggestions for improvements.

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