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Don’t let mishap spoil the fireworks

Lawyers are everywhere.

Even if their numbers are somewhat modest in Baker County, they’re still all around us.

Why bring this up?

Last week’s fireworks “malfunction” (remember the “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl?) at Memorial Stadium at the close of the BCHS graduation ceremony is why.

As you’ll note in the news coverage of the event in this week’s edition, there was stonewalling on the part of the school district and Macclenny Fire Department (which supervised the pyrotechnics) to reveal just who it was that furnished the fireworks.

The high school principal said, in effect, since they were “donated” he was reluctant to name the source. He did, however, assert the school district was responsible for fireworks being part of the graduation program.

Kinda hard to deny that. Otherwise, we’d have to assume some entity, vigilantes perhaps, brought the fireworks to the event without warning and “Bam!” — they went off.

 

A spokesman for the fire department, which in the past rode herd on large fireworks displays on July 4th, the Christmas Parade, etc., said only  the fireworks were delivered to Memorial Stadium by “an unknown person.”

Really?

That raises two questions: first, how many people working for either the school district or fire department don’t “know” each other, or don’t recognize each other? Second, who would explode fireworks brought anywhere by an “unknown” person? What if the source was Al Queda? What kind of hell would have been turned loose upon the 2012 graduating class and its families?

An employee at Phantom Fireworks put an end to the mystery. Of course, they donated the fireworks as they graciously have for years.

Back to the lawyers. Reactions like this, even subconscious ones, reflect the reality that haunts all of us to varying degrees. Behind every potential danger — like errant fireworks — lurks a plaintiff’s attorney, a product liability or a personal injury lawsuit.

The BCHS principal said he abhors putting anyone in “harm’s way” as a result of something the high school does. Surely he does, as does the school district.

But, as others pointed out in this week’s coverage by Mr. Addington, stuff happens.

Here’s hoping the school district doesn’t go ga-ga and ban fireworks displays from future graduations because of what happened last week. Fireworks are an ancient celebratory tool (thank you, Chinese) and are safer today than they’ve ever been (product liability lawyers keep a close eye on manufacturers, too).

There are associated risks. But everyone who attended Friday’s event took risks getting there, risks as drivers and passengers far greater than as spectators during the fireworks.

Don’t run from the fun. A fireworks display at graduation is a perfectly fitting climax to a festive public event, and they should continue in coming years.

As long as the school district uses due diligence, things like dealing with a reputable supplier (Phantom, I might add, is also a valued corporate citizen of Baker County) and having the event supervised by fire department personnel qualified to handle them, we should be okay.

Yes, the plaintiff’s bar lurks out there. Take the right precautions and thumb your nose at them.

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