District Agrees to Nix Fireworks Displays at High School Football Games

Update: The Canby School District has agreed to cease the use of fireworks with a concussive noise element during high school football games. The district provided the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

“Canby School District notified City Administrator Rick Robinson today that Canby High School will cease the use of fireworks at football games, based on the city’s directive. We will look for other ways to celebrate that do not include concussive blasts. We’d like to thank all the donors over the years who have funded this tradition, including Canby Boosters and Western Fireworks.”

The city has asked the Canby School District to refrain from their traditional fireworks displays at high school football games this season, at the request of nearby residents, veterinary clinics and a senior care facility.

The request came in the form of an email Friday from City Administrator Rick Robinson to Superintendent Trip Goodall, and followed an appearance at Wednesday’s City Council meeting by resident Paul Ylvisaker.

Ylvisaker said he lives two blocks from Canby High School and suffers from chronic pain and PTSD that’s exacerbated by the anxiety and stress from the “random explosions” that happen during football games. Per longstanding tradition, a touchdown by the hometown team triggers an aerial display of fireworks at Cougar Stadium.

So, if you ever wondered, “What was that boom?” while the Cougs were hosting a visiting football team, now you know.

Ylvisaker presented a petition signed by approximately 50 other residents, along with representatives of two veterinary clinics (Birch Street and Sequoia) and Rackleff Place, a senior care facility on SW 13th Avenue. The petition called the use of fireworks, “disrespectful, uninvited, intrusive and abusive to us and our pets.”

He said he supports Canby High School and its football team; he just thinks there are better and less disruptive ways to celebrate them.

Ylvisaker also appeared before council last May to ask the city to do something about the noisy celebrations, but the effort resulted in an exemption being created in the existing noise ordinance, one that specifically allows fireworks and other explosive devices at events sanctioned by the city, school district and Canby Fire District.

Evidently, the city is now prepared to take the matter further. Robinson’s letter asks the high school to fully discontinue the use of fireworks with an explosive component during football games and cited Ylvisaker’s petition as well as the health concerns expressed by him and others, which he called “significant and quite persuasive.”

“I am requesting that you discontinue the use of fireworks that have an explosive component and any other explosive devices you would typically use at a football game,” Robinson wrote. “If it is possible to create a firework that provides the visual appeal without the percussive component, the game attendees could continue to enjoy the visual spectacle without inflicting the noise element on the neighborhood.”

Because of the exemption in the noise ordinance, the city cannot require the high school to forego the use of fireworks without action from the City Council.

The school district has not yet responded to Robinson’s request publicly (the start of school is, after all, just around the corner), but we understand that the request has been forwarded from Superintendent Goodall to the athletic director’s office for consideration.

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