Letter: Bring back fireworks for the Fourth

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The July 4 fireworks event at Main Beach is extremely popular, attracting one of the biggest crowds of the year in the middle of the tourist season. People have always loved fireworks. Especially on the Fourth of July, the day we declared our independence, precipitating an eight-year-long war against the vastly superior British military.

Ever since, Americans across the country have been celebrating our hard-fought unlikely victory by blowing up rockets on the Fourth of July. Messing with this tradition is non-trivial.

The city council has unanimously chosen an array of 300 programmed drones to replace fireworks. Each drone has a single point light. 300 little dots will be choreographed to make low-resolution “patterns, shapes, and animations.” No big bangs, just a low buzz, with music and narration over loudspeakers.

If it’s foggy or windy, the show will be cancelled.

The Independent has run just one article about the change, barely three months before the event, like it’s no big deal. It “will look a little different.” Seriously? 15 minutes of 300 little dots for $75,000, compared to fireworks for $42,000. Councilman Rounaghi is “protecting our environment, veterans, and our wildlife.”

Protecting the environment: Tens of thousands of people will drive here in gas-burning cars. California electricity is still mostly generated by natural gas from dawn to dusk. Almost 100% of all civilian drones are made in China, not famous for environmentalism.

Protecting veterans: I’m an Army veteran (no combat, no PTSD). After two years of watching horrific drone warfare in Ukraine, Israel and elsewhere, I wonder how many event spectators will imagine a swarm of 300 drones over Laguna in a different context, evoking more angst than happiness.

Protecting wildlife, (plus freaked-out dogs): Virtue signaling. The council has no objection to resuming the fireworks next year.

Google the provider, Sky Elements Drones. They are an advertising business, “From aerial logos to brand messaging.” Gigantic glowing billboards, extreme visual pollution. Look at their main example, the Paramount logo. It’s 383 little dots. Laguna is only getting 300, so subtract the mountain dots. That’s it. 300 little dots. Woo-hoo!

Celebrate the Fourth of July by posting the flag. Simple and beautiful.

Joel Harrison, Laguna Beach

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