The city of Ottawa, Kansas, is rescheduling its show for the day before Labor Day because the fireworks ordered in February are stranded in a ship bound from China. “We hate to break tradition,” Tiffany Evans, who co-chairs the city’s festival, told the outlet. “Even though it’s out of our control, it feels like we’re letting the community down.”
COVID lockdowns closed manufacturing facilities and logistics hubs across the world as the virus began to spread. By the end of 2021, hundreds of shipping vessels carrying thousands of containers were stranded off the California coast as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach struggled to keep up with demand. Persistent lockdowns in China and other Asian economies continue to limit the availability of consumer goods in the United States — a factor behind rising inflationary pressures.
Phoenix, Arizona, canceled its shows altogether due to a lack of fireworks, while Minneapolis, Minnesota, nixed its celebration because there were not enough workers to secure the site from which the fireworks were supposed to launch.
Some cities are keeping their shows during the holiday weekend, yet rescheduling from the Fourth of July because of a deficit of people available to run the pyrotechnics. Fairfax, Virginia, is delaying its show by one day, while Fountain Hills, Arizona, will run its display on the first of the month.
“A lot of these shooters, they could be doctors or dentists by day, and for two days a year they’re a pyrotechnician who’s shooting a firework show,” National Fireworks Association President Steve Houser told The Wall Street Journal, noting that many people avoid getting their licenses because of “hassle” involved with professional training and clearances with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Though the agency does not regulate consumer fireworks, federal law requires that any person receiving “display fireworks” must obtain an explosives license or permit “for the specific activity.”
Beyond fireworks, other economic challenges are placing a damper on celebrations. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average cost of a Fourth of July summer cookout for a party of 10 is currently $69.68 — 17% higher since last year. Prices for barbecue staples such as chicken breasts, pork chops, potato salad, lemonade, and hamburger buns are more elevated than last year.
“Despite higher food prices, the supply chain disruptions and inflation have made farm supplies more expensive; like consumers, farmers are price-takers not price-makers,” AFBF Chief Economist Roger Cryan explained. “Bottom line, in many cases the higher prices farmers are being paid aren’t covering the increase in their farm expenses. The cost of fuel is up and fertilizer prices have tripled.”
Last year, however, President Biden’s White House tweeted that his administration managed to save Americans $0.16 on their Independence Day cookouts. At the time, year-over-year inflation was 5.3% and rising. As of last month, inflation was 8.6% — the highest level in four decades.