Leaders debating best place to shoot off fireworks for Jonesborough Days
By Kristen Swing
“We hope the good Lord blesses us with cooler temperatures and not 104 degrees this year,” said Mayor Kelly Wolfe about the record-breaking heat that scorched the success of last year’s Jonesborough Days Festival.
Attendance at the festival appeared to be at an all-time low because of the oppressive heat. The hot and dry conditions also led officials with the AmericInn hotel to tell the town it could not shoot off the annual fireworks display from their property due to perceived fire risks.
By the time the hotel backed out, it was too late for a fire marshal to approve another location, forcing Tennessee’s oldest town to cancel the fireworks altogether.
Town leaders are now scouting out new potential locations from which to shoot off the fireworks.
“I think we are probably better off with a location where we can control the usage,” Wolfe said of the decision not to return to the AmericInn. “At this point, we are still officially undecided as to the location. However, we’ve got a couple possibilities under consideration.”
Currently, two spots seem to be rising to the top as far as possible locations.
“Initially, we discussed shooting them from the parking lot in front of the (Washington County Detention Center) on Highway 11E,” Wolfe said. “More recently, we have been considering the parking lot behind the courthouse, specifically the parking lot at The Parson’s Table.”
The parking lot adjacent to The Parson’s Table is town-owned while the county owns the jail parking lot.
At least a handful of county commissioners are aware the town is considering using the lot.
During the April 3 meeting of the County-Owned Property Committee, Commissioner Mark Ferguson said he had been made aware of the issue from the Town of Jonesborough. The committee unanimously voted to tell town leaders they are welcome to look at county-owned properties as possible locations to shoot the fireworks as long as the fire marshal approves.
Still, the jail lot may not be the ideal spot.
“There’s some legitimate concern that if they are done at the jail parking lot they would not be very visible from downtown,” Wolfe said. “Of course, our goal (with Jonesborough Days) is to bring people downtown to support our merchants there.”
The Parson’s Table parking lot comes with its own set of challenges, including the train schedule related to the adjacent railroad tracks.
According to Melinda Copp, town events coordinator, representatives from the fireworks company have come to Jonesborough to look at possible sites.
Test shoots are scheduled to take place some time this week to determine the best location.
The Jonesborough Days Festival is scheduled to run July 5-7 this year, with the fireworks taking place on the night of July 6.