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'Great alternative': City of Lawrence replaces fireworks with drone show, cites nearby Humane Society

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Posted at 3:52 PM, Jul 03, 2024

LAWRENCE, Kan. — The City of Lawrence will celebrate the Fourth of July with a drone show in place of fireworks this year due to the Douglas County Fairground's proximity to the Lawrence Humane Shelter.

Prior to last year, the city's traditional fireworks show was held at University of Kansas' West District, but due to construction, the city moved it to the fairgrounds for the first time last year.

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Porter Arneill

“So last year we did do the firework show here (at the fairgrounds)," said Porter Arneill, assistant director for Lawrence Parks and Rec Arts and Culture. "It is a great tradition here in Lawrence, and we completely appreciate that, but it did cause some trouble for our humane society, which isn’t far away.”

The city provided the humane society, which is directly across the street from the fairgrounds, with ample notice so preparations could be made last year.

“All the animals were fine, we would never put them in danger, we would never allow them to not be OK, but it certainly was more work," said Elina Alterman, director of development and communications for the Lawrence Humane Society.

A crew of volunteers helped the humane society prepare. Preparations included: tarps covering windows facing the fireworks, calming music in every kennel and homemade enrichment activities for the animals.

Some community members are upset with the stray from tradition and switch to a drone show, but the city says its a great alternative.

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Elina Alterman

“We really appreciate that they were so thoughtful and just thinking ahead, for not just all the animals but all the people that might be triggered by fireworks," Alterman said.

The city acknowledges fireworks can be triggering for veterans, too.

“We don’t want to cause them any harm or anything, so I think this is going to work out really well," Arneill said.

The city's efforts haven't gone unnoticed.

“We actually did receive a recognition letter from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals," Arneill said. "And that was nice, that wasn’t our goal per se, but it’s nice to be recognized for that.”

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Dogs at the Lawrence Humane Society on July 3, 2024.

Fourth of July can also be tough for pet owners at home.

"The most important thing is to be there for your pet," Alterman said.

The drone show will begin at 9:45 p.m. on Wednesday, July 3, at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. The city's second annual Summerfest — including crafts, food trucks, kid activities and live music — will lead up to the drone show beginning at 3 p.m.