SALT LAKE CITY — “Mad Matt” Shadle has been selling fireworks to Utahns since 1995.
“My favorite thing about it is, I like the smell," he said. "A lot of people say, 'Well, we like to hear loud noises,' or, 'We like to see pretty colors in the sky.' But I like the smell too. There's something about the smell.”
But for the first time, Salt Lake City is trading pyrotechnics for laser beams this Independence Day; on Saturday night, the city will host its first Laser Light Night at Jordan Park.
“We are in such a severe drought right now," said Lynze Twede, Events Manager for Salt Lake City Public Lands. "Lighting off fireworks really contributes to our already high fire danger and our air pollution and the noise pollution that we have here.”
The laser show has a similar cost to previous fireworks shows, she said.
“It will look a little bit different than fireworks," said Twede. "But people can still expect that breathtaking show that lights up our skies with laser beams going overhead and a fantastic show.”
And while Salt Lake City is hopeful other cities follow its lead, Shadle doesn’t think fireworks will go away any time soon.
“As of right now, I would say our sales are about dead on where they need to be," he said. "They're not down, they're not up.”
Fireworks are legal to fire from July 2 through July 5 until 11:00 p.m. each night and on July 4th until midnight. Many Utah cities have released their own restrictions too. "Mad Matt" reminds everyone to be safe, follow laws and restrictions and have fun.
“What we're celebrating is our freedom of being America," he said. "And it's a great way to express that.”
Salt Lake City is expecting a big turnout July 2 at Jordan Park, advising people to come early to get a spot and enjoy food trucks and live music before the laser light show at sundown. Festivies will being at 8:00 p.m. with the laser light show expected to being at approximately 9:30 p.m.