Palm Springs officials are scrambling to figure out what kind of Independence Day celebration they will host after city council voted for a fireworks-free Fourth of July.
The council voted 3-2 against having a fireworks show in the city, with Mayor Christy Holstege and Councilmember Grace Garner voting in favor.
The city will still hold a holiday celebration, but now it's a race against time to figure out exactly what that will look like.
The council discussed balancing the long-standing tradition with what some felt is best for the community, weighing the potential trauma fireworks can cause for some veterans with PTSD and pets.
"What's being planned is $30,000 of noise pollution that every animal lover, pet parent and veteran dealing with PTSD in this community dreads," said one person calling into public comment.
Some city leaders advocated for a larger discussion about if fireworks fit with the Palm Springs community: "...whether or not fireworks are something that we want to allow in our city," said Mayor Pro-Tem Lisa Middleton.
The celebration would be the first large crowd event held in the city since the pandemic. With California expecting to eliminate it's color-coded tier system of reopening on June 15, city leaders said they feel comfortable planning a large crowd event with protective measures.
The city said that in past years, more than 10,000 people have participated in the fireworks show from the Palm Springs Stadium and in other surrounding parks, parking lots and neighborhoods. In this year's proposal, there is no capacity limit listed – however people would be required to keep their masks on.
And while fireworks are out at least for this Fourth of July, council directed city staff to find alternative ways to celebrate.
"I just think it's an opportunity do something that's a free event for folks and to bring people together as a community," Councilmember Geoff Kors said.
But Cynthia Alvarado, director of parks and recreation, said that with just two months to go and multiple cities competing for the same date, that could be a tall order.
"The struggle right now is that the majority of these companies who are producing these alternative shows are booked," Alvarado said.
The controversial discussion stirred up some conflict among the council.
"I will just say how incredibly ridiculous and upsetting this decision is," Holstege said.
"My phone is lighting up now because of all the people going, 'What? What just happened? What do you mean they're canceling the fireworks?'" Garner said.
The council was also split on the vote to allocate the fireworks money toward hosting an alternative Fourth of July event, with another 3-2 vote.