LANCASTER, Calif. - The mayor of Lancaster himself set off the city’s 4th of July fireworks display after the display’s operators ducked out - allegedly bowing to pressure from the state fire Marshal.
As planned, the fireworks erupted from the Lancaster Soccer Field at 9 pm.
Just hours before the show, the Los Angeles County Fire Marshal arrived onsite to make sure that the firework operators were aware of codes that they needed to follow.
Mayor Rex Parris said that the State Fire Marshal then got involved, and started threatening to put the operators out of business if they went through with the show.
Eager spectators had flocked to the edges of the soccer fields in their cars, excited to celebrate the holiday with fireworks.
Mayor Perris then decided he would assume responsibility, and set off the fireworks himself. Moments before the show, the operators left the field, and Mayor Parris pressed the button to set off the fireworks right at 9 pm.
He said he was tired of the politics that had become involved.
“It’s lost all sense of principle, it’s lost all sense of public safety. I would suggest that that’s what’s wrong with America - that we’ve become so polarized by ‘who’s the bigger bully’? What the people of Lancaster want is to celebrate Independence Day and that’s what we’re going to do. And we’ll deal with the fallout later,” he said moments before he set off the fireworks.
The City Council voted to move forward with the display at an emergency meeting Saturday, granting Mayor R. Rex Parris' request for authority to issue a permit and sign a contract with a fireworks vendor for a show set for 9 p.m.
"The city has considered all risks and feels confident in our ability to safely host a show," Parris wrote on the city's Facebook page. "A show our residents deserve after a year of continuing challenges."
"When you look around here, this city is the safest city in Los Angeles County. If you look at the number of hospital admissions and our death rate -- we are the safest city,"
The mayor said the display would be safe for the public as long as viewers remain in their vehicles or if they wear a mask when outside one. He added that those who do not wear a face-covering would be cited.
"We absolutely know, wear your mask, wash your hands, don't touch your face and nobody needs to die. And nobody needs to shut down America," he said.
An earlier vendor that had planned to put on the show at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds pulled out over the county ban. The show is now planned for the Lancaster Soccer Center, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Officials are not allowing the public to congregate at that location, but say it will be visible from spots throughout the city.