Village police and fire officials are monitoring weather conditions day to day and say it’s still unclear whether the Menomonee Falls Fourth of July fireworks will go off as scheduled on July 3.
Police Chief Anna Ruzinski told Patch the decision will depend largely on two factors: wind speed and whether the Falls gets rain before Tuesday
“We recognize that this is one of the largest family holidays in the Falls, and we recognize how important it is,” Ruzinski said. “But we also want it to be the safest. If there are not strong winds, we can do it.”
Police and fire officials have been meeting on the issue this week.
Officials will start monitoring the situation more closely on Sunday, she said. “We are playing it day-by-day. Right now, it’s too early to tell.”
She said the parade will go on no matter what.
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Ruzinski also reminded people to not use illegal fireworks, saying that officials will be actively citing those who do. And she reminded village residents to adhere to the on June 14.
It’s all about a concern that conditions are so dry in Menomonee Falls that fires could ignite if people aren’t careful due to flying embers or sparks.
“It’s more dangerous this year,” she said.
According to the village website, the Independence Day parade starts at 7 p.m. on Appleton and Elm (near Sentry) and travels up Appleton to Woosencraft Drive, then to Menomonee Falls High School. Ruzinski said police will close Appleton Avenue 24 hours before the parade to allow people to claim an area to watch it.
On Thursday, Ruzinski released a letter to the community explaining changes in how people claim spots for the parade. Due to safety concerns, she said no one will be able to "lay claim" to a spot for the parade before 7 p.m. on July 2.
The fireworks, if they are not canceled, will start at dark (between 9:15 and 9:30 p.m.) and are shot from the Menomonee Falls High School practice field. The parade and fireworks are sponsored by the Menomonee Falls Optimist Club.
Ruzinski said that fire officials have been watering the field where the fireworks will be fired from as a precautionary measure. She said she’s never seen a drier build-up to the Fourth of July holiday in her five years as police chief.
Right now, weather predictions suggest wind speed of 12 mph.
“If it stops at that, we will probably be OK,” she said. Similarly, there’s a chance for rain on Friday and Sunday. If that happens, the fireworks could go off as scheduled even if wind speeds quicken somewhat.
The police chief said the village is taking other precautionary measures for the fireworks, if they go off as scheduled:
- Fire trucks will be on the scene ready to respond
- Authorities will set up a command post for police and fire
- They’re reaching out to Lannon about getting a vehicle with a mini pumper on it
- They are watering the athletic field nightly where the fireworks are shot off from. One issue is that the field has “no water nearby,” said Ruzinski.
As for illegal fireworks, the chief said the only fireworks that are legal to set off in the village without a permit are sparklers, caps, and snakes. Fireworks that are illegal include bottle rockets, Roman candles, and firecrackers, she said.
“We will actively enforce that ban,” she said, noting that the penalty is $844.80 without a permit. It’s “extremely hard” to get a village permit to set off fireworks, she added.
“People need to resist the temptation to use illegal fireworks,” she said, adding that the village has not had a problem with businesses selling them.
The more general burn ban includes any type of brush burning, recreational fires, or wood burning of any kind. Charcoal and gas grills are permitted. The fine is $177. The ban will be in effect under further notice dictated by weather conditions, according to a flyer released previously by fire and police officials.