What is Fort Wayne’s obsession with Firework...

What is Fort Wayne’s obsession with Fireworks?


I remember one thing from my summer days of the early 90s: Fireworks were a big deal! And in Fort Wayne we were given two exclusive fireworks displays in July. The first was the Fourth of July fireworks, which were shot off near the Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne campus. The second was at the conclusion of the Three Rivers Festival downtown. And for both shows, the concept was simple. Your family loaded up the old astro van with a cascade of snacks, blankets, and aluminum lawn chairs. You got to your favorite spot early and waited in anticipation for the cannonade of lights and sound.

In 2017, downtown Fort Wayne has had just over 30 fireworks displays. (For comparison downtown Indianapolis features about 15 displays) What happened? How did a solemn biannual arrangement of patriotic and civic pride turn into a weekly reminder that we can blow things up? Throughout the summer, we hear a barrage of mortars from folks who overspent, and it begs the question: Who are these warriors of the river canopy anyway?

City ordinance limits the use of fireworks to just 16 evenings a year, so the planning must start months in advance. According to, in 2016 Americans spent $800 million on crack-boom-bams for personal use, and municipalities spent between $5,000 and $30,000. In our city, it is not difficult to contribute to the cause with more than 30 retailers holding permits to peddle poppers. Take into consideration that most of these retailers offer buy-one-get-one free deals, so that’s an awful lot of firepower.

One fresh wound I’ve recently noticed on social media is the talk about scared and anxious fur babies at people’s homes. Does your 3-year-old boston terrier really need a Benadryl? This is a level of human angst that we really should never have gotten to in our time.

Even after the Tincaps finished a late game (delayed by rain) one night, someone decided they should still set off the celebration fireworks at midnight! Maybe it’s my wish for a more nostalgic summer experience, or my newfound frugal spending habits, or the nights downtown at the Sidecar when my friends and I feel like we’re under attack. But I cannot wrap my head around this city’s growing explosive behavior.

Next summer, when it comes times to plan and budget, I suggest we come together as a community and invest in something more valuable… like fidget spinners, kayaks, or ice cream filled donuts.

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Sam was born and raised in Fort Wayne. He graduated from Marian University with degrees in Education and Theology. He works full-time as a junior-high teacher and a local private school. He also volunteers his free time as a rugby coach. In his spare time, he likes to listen to music, ride his bike and enjoy cigars and bourbon.


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