The rumble of voices around us seems cacophonous in comparison to what happens next. My brother and I are lying on the green scratchy plaid blanket on the grass, one of the few blankets that my mother has deemed worthy of being allowed outside. It’s the same blanket that we use to tie to the corners of the swing set in order to make houses of fabric in which we pretend we are the Ingalls Family from Little House on the Prairie with the tow headed children from across the street. We are up past our bedtime and it’s thrilling: the same feeling you get when your parents go out and hire a babysitter who is too young and cautious to order you against jumping on the furniture. The boisterousness of the crowd rolls over my recumbent body and I poke my brother and annoy him while we impatiently wait. As the sound of the first firework booms across the crowd and then the radiant flares detonate in the heavens above us, the crowd becomes instantly silent in shared feelings of awe and wonder.
It is the 4th of July. It is the feeling of American Dreams. It is a sense of time and place briefly frozen as a community comes together in one place in bipartisan celebration. It is a feeling of nostalgia that never changes: decades may pass, technologies advance, and children act older at younger ages. Regardless of how our society progresses, the feeling you get when you lay on the grass is unfailingly timeless and universal, whether you are in St. Louis, Atlanta, Phoenix or South Lake Tahoe. It’s as if you are 8 all over again and up way past your bedtime. This feeling is special.
This feeling doesn’t dissipate with age and it is with great pride and anticipation that I watch Tahoe South’s fireworks shows every summer with friends, family and guests who are here to enjoy their holiday at the lake. Last year, our community rejoiced together as our fireworks display was named one of the top 10 in the nation. Can you imagine the 4th of July without BBQs and fireworks? Neither can I.
In November of 2013, Joseph and Joan Truxler, of Zephyr Cove, NV filed a lawsuit against the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority alleging the twice annual fireworks displays violate the Clean Water Act. There is much information in the news and online about how this is simply not true and the Lahonton Water Board, after going studies in 2001 on the fireworks displays, determined that there were no long-term effects to the lake.
The Glenbrook couple seeking a lawsuit against the Visitors Authority claims to have spent “days” picking up trash on their beach but never called our local authorities to discuss the matter. I find it disheartening that when a simple phone call could have perhaps brought about a collaborative community effort to assist with their problem, they brought about a costly lawsuit that could potentially put an end to a tradition that I feel is of the utmost importance and furthermore, could endanger our community’s economic vitality. Whether our community depended on tourist income or not, fireworks and the 4th of July still go together like peanut butter and jelly. Regardless of your location, it is an indispensable American tradition.
I am a Tahoe South Local.
I am an American.
I believe in the power of the silence between the first bang and the moment the heavens explode with brilliance.
I believe that when the fireworks start, everyone feels like a kid again.
I believe that feeling is special.
What can you do to help?
The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority has called an emergency board meeting today, Thursday, March 27th at 4 PM at their offices to address the lawsuit. They will be commenting on the severely harmful economic and environmental ramifications of the Truxlers’ actions.
I encourage Tahoe locals to go to the meeting.
In order to help, you can prepare a statement outlining how the loss of the fireworks will affect your business – be specific in terms of total dollars and estimated decreased percentages in occupancy, sales and/or employee hours, etc. Bring this statement with you and present your concerns at the LTVA Board meeting during public comment in three minutes or less.
If you don’t want to speak, I still encourage you to attend the meeting in person. If you have a statement but cannot attend the meeting or do not wish to speak, please prepare and submit it by email with permission for it to be read at the LTVA Board meeting.
Between the 4th of July and Labor Day, South Lake Tahoe’s fireworks displays generate a combined total of more than $6 million in revenue, the loss of which would be absolutely detrimental to our local economy.