Piedmont will celebrate Independence Day

Sunday, June 22nd 2008, 10:42 pm
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

PIEDMONT, Okla. - City officials are making some changes to Piedmont's annual July 4 celebration a year after two people were killed by the fireworks.

Shannon Dillard Wilson and Travis Dillard died in an explosion while trying to set off the fireworks last year. The brother and sister team worked for Enid-based Western Enterprises.

Mayor Mike Fina said the city will continue with the fireworks tradition but will have a scaled-back version July 5 at the Piedmont Elementary School instead of at the high school.

"I truly believe that it's part of the healing process," Fina said. "When you have a tragedy you have to keep going. We're going to get that back to a community feel of what I remember when I was a kid."

Western Enterprises is donating the fireworks for this year's show. Fina said the proceeds of the event will go to the Dillard family.

"I spoke with Ms. Dillard before I even started on this project and asked her if she was OK with that," Fina said. "She told me there would be no better way to honor her family than to move forward with the event."

Resident Max Martinez said he thinks it's too soon to host the celebration.

"I didn't like it and I don't want to go through it again," Martinez said.

The high school senior said he plans to spend the holiday launching fireworks with friends.

Western Enterprises was fined more than $7,000 by the Labor Department for last year's accident. This year the company is planning to use electronic devices instead of workers to set off the fireworks.