New Anchorage fireworks law may be modified

Posted: Wednesday, January 05, 2011

ANCHORAGE — Some Anchorage Assembly members say they want to repeal or modify a new law that allowed fireworks on private property over New Year’s Eve.

Carl Glover / Carl Glover
Carl Glover / Carl Glover

Assemblywoman Harriet Drummond hopes to introduce a proposal to repeal the law after getting complaints from residents. Other members who supported the measure say they may consider limiting certain types of fireworks.

But Assembly Chairman Dick Traini, who sponsored the law, told the Anchorage Daily News it was a success. “This town was just lit up with people using fireworks,” Traini said.

The law approved in December permits fireworks on private property only from 9:30 p.m. New Year’s Eve to 1 a.m. New Year’s Day. The law expires after New Year’s Eve 2011.

Thousands of people from Chugiak to Sand Lake brightened the skies with colorful fireworks displays. But afterward, those who didn’t enjoy their evening e-mailed and phoned Assembly members to complain, the newspaper reported.

“I got over 30 e-mails New Year’s Eve and the next morning, and they continue,” Drummond said, adding that they were overwhelmingly against the fireworks. “I’m getting reports of people whose dogs were terrified for five hours.”

“It was like a war zone,” Sigrun Robertson of East Anchorage wrote to four Assembly members. “It was the worst New Year’s I have ever spent in Anchorage.”

She told the newspaper she spent the night holding her freaked-out golden retriever, Hunter.

Jon Nauman, owner of the Horse Drawn Carriage Co., said his horses downtown were tensed up by sidewalk fireworks and that drivers shut down early.

Not everyone complained to the Assembly.

“There are very few things the city does all together, spontaneously,” said Marc Bond, who wrote a letter to the editor complimenting the Assembly. “There were fireworks everywhere. Everybody was having fun.”

He said his Swiss mountain dog Caper didn’t like the noise but recovered.

Assemblyman Patrick Flynn said he got 70 to 100 e-mails, with most against legalizing fireworks. “Most were just, ‘What are you guys, a bunch of lunatics?’” he said.

There may not be enough votes on the 11-member Assembly to repeal the law outright. It passed 7-4, with Drummond, Flynn, Debbie Ossiander and Chris Birch voted against it.

“We might look at limiting the size of fireworks,” said Assemblyman Ernie Hall, who voted to allow the fireworks.

Assembly member Jennifer Johnston said she’d like to discuss keeping the prettier fireworks but not the ones that go “kaboom.”

“I could see it was a much bigger group of fireworks than in the past,” she said. “It’s kind of like we released a monster.”

Traini said most of the complaints were about stress on pets.

“Do we control what we do just for the pets?” he asked. “I think the vast majority of people enjoyed the fireworks.”

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