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Fireworks barge can't be taken for granted

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2002

The fireworks-loving people of Juneau should be aware of a situation that could change how we enjoy our fireworks show each year. Central to the entire fireworks operation is the barge from which we fire the show. Using a barge allows us to do more than gain center state in our natural amphitheater; it allows us to stay 840 feet away from any people, buildings, or other structures, and 1,680 feet away from any fuel storage areas. And while our local topography is great to look at and bounces the fireworks noise around nicely, it make it challenging to find a place other than the middle of the harbor to stage the show.

So now that we all agree shooting from a barge is the preferred option, here's the situation. Fifteen years ago we began a stretch of about 10 years where we had the fortune of Juneau being homeport for the Anderson Barge Co. Each year they would time their schedule to have one of their two barges available for our use. However, as the economy of Southeast changes, so has the viability of a local barge company, and those assets no longer are available to us. Barges that remain in this area today are subject to those same economic rules, and that means come summertime, you better have some paying projects lined up.

While we lucked into a barge the last few years, it's often like this year when we weren't able to get a commitment until three weeks before the show. Thanks this year go to Assembly member Ken Koelsch, princess Cruises' Kirby Day, Cruise Line Agencies' Don Habeger, and Amak Towing of Ketchikan for making it happen. The barge that resupplies the Star Princess is available and all parties have agreed to donate its use. Who knows about next year? Is there a long-term solution? It's a long discussion that takes more room than we have here. If you have any ideas, let us know when you see us, or via e-mail, ron@nuggetoutfitter.com or mark_obrien@dot.state.ak.us

Ron Flint

Mark O'Brien

Juneau fireworks crew



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