By Meg Dedyne
Listen Up, Lansing staff reporter
Cheryl Maloney and her family love watching the Silver Bells in the City parade every year downtown Lansing and according to Maloney, she and her three girls anxiously await the fireworks to go off behind the Capitol building.
“The fireworks are a good addition to all of the festivities,” Maloney said. “My family always loves going to watch.”
According to Brian Jackson, chief deputy city clerk at the Lansing City Clerk Office, it takes a lot to get approval of this display. The event coordinators need forms, proof of funds and approval from the fire marshal and state police department. The last step is to get the application approved by the Lansing City Council.
The fireworks for Silver Bells were approved during the Nov. 9 Lansing City Council meeting. The Silver Bells event is on Friday, Nov. 20.
“This display isn’t just about a couple of signatures, it takes a lot of planning to make these fireworks happen each year,” said Jackson. “The fireworks are always a huge draw for about 100,000 people, so they are really important to this event.”
Jackson said the fireworks are planned to go off behind the State Capitol building on state property. They will be displayed above the building so people can see them when they are standing in front on the lawn and have a good chance to take pictures.
“The parade is great to bring people downtown Lansing and it starts the holiday season off on a good note,” Maloney said. “The tree lighting and the fireworks are my family’s favorite part of the event. Silver Bells definitely wouldn’t be the same without the fireworks display.”
According to Maloney, the perfect spot to watch the fireworks is across the street from the Christmas tree so that they can see the fireworks, the tree and the State Capitol building all in one shot.
Silver Bells is coordinated by a committee under Downtown Lansing Inc., according to Layna Anderson, communications and marketing manager for Downtown Lansing Inc.
Anderson said that the firework display is sponsored by Lake Trust Credit Union and then the committee hires a fireworks company to come out and actually put on the show. She wasn’t sure the estimated cost of the firework display that the credit union is sponsoring.
According to the fireworks display license application, the fireworks license fee is $150. If there is property damage or injury to one person, the cost will be at least $500,000 and $1,000,000 for injury to two or more people resulting from the same incident.
“The fire marshal comes out and tells the company what they can and cannot do and gives them the approval if the weather permits the fireworks,” Anderson said. “If it is too windy or something like that the fire marshal would have to cancel the show due to safety.”
Anderson said that Downtown Lansing Inc. could not put on this event without the help of all of the Silver Bells volunteers.
“It’s great to see so many people out downtown during Silver Bells,” Anderson said. “It’s great because a lot of people go into the businesses downtown. Silver Bells is a free event for families to come and enjoy.”
Lansing Police Public Information Officer Robert Merritt said that they don’t have any specific regulations for the fireworks on Friday. The area where the fireworks are shot off is roped off.
“Our biggest concern for the event is lost kids and getting them back with their parents,” Merritt said.
According to Merritt, the fireworks are through special events and private vendors. There are no procedures set in place for the fireworks besides making sure no one is in the restricted area.
Brittanie Chludzinski said that she performed in the parade with the Michigan State University Elite Competitive Dance Team last year and it was great to see all of the community members who came out to watch and support everyone in the parade.
“There’s something really special about going downtown with thousands of other people to just enjoy the season,” said Chludzinski. “The fireworks, the tree lighting and all of the decorations made me so excited for the holidays.”
The fire marshal’s division has several meetings with the Capitol staff and fireworks contractors, according to Steve Mazurek, engineer and public information officer for the Lansing Fire Department.
Mazurek said they discuss the fall out zone during these meetings, which is where the fireworks are expected to fall. There will be several parking lots around the Capitol that no one will be allowed to park in.
“Safe zones have to be determined before the event, which is the biggest thing,” Mazurek said. “Wind and weather conditions always play a factor in whether the fireworks will be allowed to go off.”
The fireworks almost weren’t allowed to go off a couple of years ago because the wind was too strong, but there was a break in the wind at one point and the display was just delayed, according to Mazurek.
Mazurek said the whole fire marshal’s division will be at the event helping out and after the fireworks are over, the division goes on top of the buildings nearby and makes sure there are no debris marks.