There’s nothing wrong with trying something new, but it’s also good to be able to recognize that the old way wasn’t so bad after all.
That seems to be what happened with planning for the Lawrence Jaycees trademark Fourth of July fireworks display.
Citing safety concerns associated with having the fireworks so close to the Kansas River, the Jaycees decided last year to move the display to the dam at Clinton Lake, west of Lawrence. This year, the display will come back — a little further from the river — but back in the central part of the city.
The fireworks will be ignited from the north side of the river, but closer to the Kansas River bridges to facilitate viewing from Constant Park, Watson Park and other downtown locations. Some Lawrence old-timers would have liked to see the Jaycees step back a little further to the days when the display was held in Kansas University’s Memorial Stadium, but since that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, downtown is the next best thing.
The community owes another debt of thanks to the “Lawrence Originals,” a group of local nonchain restaurants that is helping finance the fireworks and will be selling food in Watson Park before the display. This is the same group that instituted the Lawrence GiveBack card program, which benefits local non-profit agencies. The combination of food, live music and fireworks should make for a fun community event.
People coming to the festivities shouldn’t have the same kind of traffic backups experienced at Clinton Lake last year, and municipal parking lots throughout downtown should provide ample parking within a few blocks of the event. City officials also might consider using T buses to facilitate access to the parks.
Last year’s stated concern that having the fireworks so close to the river posed a safety hazard seemed a bit overstated, but directing viewers to Watson Park should alleviate that concern.
The Jaycees had their reasons for trying a move to Clinton Lake last year, but we’re glad they’re bringing the display back downtown. What better place to celebrate our nation’s birthday than downtown, Lawrence’s historical center.