Depending on where you live, your city or county may invest significant money in providing a fireworks display for the community this Fourth of July. One city with an impressive fireworks show is Prattville, located in Autauga County. 

Over the years, the city’s annual fireworks display has grown in size and scope. With the escalating grandiosity of the display, more and more onlookers have started gathering in public places, parking lots, and even roadways to watch the show. On the evening of July 4, the roadways and parking lots surrounding the Prattville clock tower on Legends Parkway typically teem with people sitting on trucks and trailers, making picnic blankets, tailgating and everything in between. 

Autauga County Sheriff Mark Harrell told 1819 News his officers assist in managing multiple fireworks shows across the county. According to Harrell, a primary concern of law enforcement during fireworks shows is unattended children, who tend to roam closer and closer to the fireworks staging area. 

“There are several little fireworks shows going on all over the place this week, so it just takes us to be in the area and make sure that everybody is safe,” Harrell said.

“Parents just won't watch their kids, and their kids tend to run towards the fireworks. People parking too close to where the fireworks displays are being shot off. So, we want to make sure that parents are watching their kids and staying back at a safe distance.” 

Another concern is people stopping on highways and local roads to watch the display, creating a safety hazard, especially in dimly lit areas and when drivers may be distracted by the fireworks.

“People will pull over on the side of a dark, busy roadway in a busy area trying to watch fireworks with their kids. This poses a serious risk for everybody involved. Even people who aren’t trying to watch the fireworks may not see you; they may be just trying to get to family events. So, I wouldn’t recommend parking on the side of the road unless it’s cordoned off to make sure that traffic is slowed down and aware.”

Harrell said another major contributor to safety, or the lack thereof, is alcohol consumption by people in public spaces watching the fireworks.  

“I would say that limiting their alcohol ingestion while they’re out watching these fireworks shows would be the best way folks can be a good citizen. These are supposed to be family events, so we don’t need a lot of intoxicated people with a whole bunch of kids around. Also, like I said before, just staying a safe distance away from the fireworks. Luckily, out in the county where we have our fireworks shows, they’re doing them at town parks and stuff like that, so it’s easier to control." 

Finally, some people also use the consistent noise provided by Fourth of July fireworks as an excuse to shoot firearms into the air as a form of celebration. Harrell strongly advised against shooting into the air due to the risk posed by falling bullets.

“There have been times in neighborhoods or out in the county where people will shoot off guns into the air, which is totally unsafe because those bullets have to come down, and they may come down on a kid or house or a pet,” Harell said.

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