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Letter to the Editor: Public safety, security top priority



Editor:

This letter is prompted by a nasty email I received this week urging me to explain why the BLASST board and ODNR had to make the decision we did.

Yes, we did receive a permit from ODNR, but it was much more comprehensive than past permits. For the first time, BLASST would have to provide its own insurance policy rather than being named as an additional insured on the fireworks company policy. Its cost would be significant. There were also some very open ended cleanup requirements. While we were concerned about these new permit requirements and their cost, we were determined to move ahead . We understand how important BLASST is to so many lake residents and their friends. After all, many of you have helped support BLASST financially over the years.

Our first step was to understand exactly what the new permit required us to do and how much it would cost. One of our board members attended a safety/security meeting on June 1. Six public safety agencies were represented at the meeting. Their dedication to BLASST every year is a key component of BLASST’s success.

Several of the participants had seen the jammed conditions at both the North Shore and Lieb’s Island boat ramps during the Memorial Day weekend. That weekend demonstrated how little parking and viewing area would be available for BLASST on public property. For the first time, we learned about the tragic incident at the Maumee Bay State Park just before a June 15 fireworks show last year. Two men in the tight crowd stabbed three others, fatally injuring one man. The show was shut down and it took many hours to clear the park. That incident gave the Ohio State Park officials a whole new color in their paint box that needed to be calculated in the equation for the future. It set precedence and to be honest I don’t blame them.

Over the years as the incoming crowd got bigger and bigger, they left the state parks a mess and most didn’t donate a dime for the privilege of watching a dynamic show. The aftermath leaves a lot of work. Our cleanup responsibilities were increased and more open ended this year.

Each year BLASST and our public safety partners have to tweak our plans to address problems that occurred the previous year and new concerns. We quickly realized that no amount of tweaking would be sufficient to address concerns raised by our public safety partners and the lack of space on public property for parking and viewing.

BLASST is a small NON-PROFIT unlike Red White and Boom. Our show depends your donations. I think our number of donors topped out at about 600 while about 30,000 people enjoy the show. We have fought relentlessly to make sure the majority of your donations go directly for fireworks but it gets harder every year.

We have not collected donations for two years and contrary to public belief the Wolfe family does NOT finance the fireworks. We do get an annual bequest from the Wolfe Foundation which gives us a head start on fundraising but on its own it would be a pretty short show.

We need your donations to put on the shows that everyone now expects. Most nearby communities have dropped their fireworks shows over the years, primarily for financial reasons.

We are committed to giving you the best fireworks show that our donors can support. BLASST has a great reputation as a safe and family friendly event. We are not going to risk our reputation and future by pushing ahead under very marginal conditions..The security and safety of the public will always be our top priority.

Believe me, when I tell you, there was no one more heartbroken that the show had to be canceled at such a late date. I am asking you to try to realize this show is a gift from a small army but has become an “expectation” for many in the public. The bottom line is there is nothing in life that lasts for very long that is free.

Victoria Wolfe, BLASST CEO
West Bank



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