Update: Shells that didn’t fire led to truncated Americana Festival fireworks show

One of the fireworks at the end of the Americana Festival, in Centerville Wednesday, July 4, 2007. FILE PHOTO

Combined ShapeCaption
One of the fireworks at the end of the Americana Festival, in Centerville Wednesday, July 4, 2007. FILE PHOTO

Those who are perplexed and possibly frustrated by a shorter-than-planned Americana Festival fireworks show last week in Centerville are not alone.

Americana Festival Executive Director Keith Weiskittle said the all-volunteer non-profit organization has contracted with Rozzi’s Fireworks for a number of years and did so again for this year’s festival.

But instead of the agreed-upon 25-minute show, what occurred instead was a 21-minute display, about as long as the show had lasted in previous years, Weiskittle said.

Washington Twp. Fire Marshal William Sutter, addressing the Americana Festival Committee in a July 6 letter obtained by this news outlet, said an exhibitor told him prior to the event’s start that the fireworks show looked pretty good and that they were having problems with one module reporting to the mother board. Just before the show was to start, it appeared all was going to work, Sutter said.

The show was scheduled to include a total of 810 fireworks, he said.

“When the show was over, the fireworks that did not go off were removed from the tubes and placed back into their shipping boxes,” Sutter said. “At this time, we determined that there were 319 fireworks that did not shoot off.”

Weiskittle declined to disclose the total cost for the show or other specifics about the agreement.

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The Americana Festival Committee, which had touted a “bigger and better” fireworks display for this year’s event, recently issued a statement regarding what occurred.

“We share the community’s disappointment in this year’s fireworks display, as it did not go off as designed or planned,” the committee posted to social media. “This year’s event was expected to and contracted to exceed previous displays both in length and design. It fell far short of our expectations.”

The committee said it is gathering information to determine why the show was shorter and the quality of the fireworks display “significantly less than expected.”

“We’re still in the early process of meeting with our vendor to determine what, if anything could or should have gone differently, but we have not had that opportunity to have that discussion yet,” said American Festival spokesman Dave Paprocki.

Once the investigation is completed, the committee plans to address its concerns with its fireworks vendor to help ensure quality shows in the future, the committee said.

The Americana Festival Committee receives financial and logistics support for the now-50-year-old festival, including its fireworks show, from numerous sponsors. That includes numerous local businesses, plus government entities like Centerville and Washington Twp., Weiskittle said. Miami Valley Hospital South is one of the entities that helps contribute to the fireworks show, he said.

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“We recognize and take seriously our role as stewards of those resources,” the committee said in the statement. “We assure you we will get to the bottom of what happened and do everything we can to avoid similar issues in the future. Thank you for your understanding about the challenges experienced with this year’s fireworks show.”

Paprocki said this year’s festival was “an overwhelming success complimented by fantastic weather, allowing for one of the highest attended Americana Festivals we’ve had in several years.”

“Our dedicated group of volunteers are excited to begin planning for the 2023 festival in the coming months,” he said.

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