From fireworks to public events, freedom may be limited - WDRB 41 Louisville News

From fireworks to public events, freedom may be limited

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Louisville, Ky (WDRB) -- A community-wide celebration of independence may soon be declared dead. The Waterfront Independence Festival in Louisville is struggling to find the funds needed to continue next year. And even if you opt to celebrate at home, that comes with a price in the form of some strict rules.

With broad stripes, bright stars, and loads of hot dogs, Louisville's Waterfront Park is ready to host plenty of patriots. "Rain or shine, the event is on, and we just look for everybody to come out and have a great time," said Ashley Smith of the Waterfront Development Corporation. But with a lack of sponsorship and the threat of this being the last year for the event, volunteers will be collecting donations. "Look for a volunteer next to our mascot, catfish louie and they'll be happy to collect a donation and put it go good use."

While many may be fighting to keep public events like the Waterfront Independence Festival going, Marty Whelan's idea of fourth of July fun comes from a lighter and a basket full of fireworks. "The idea is to get some stuff that we all like, and add in some stuff for the younger kids to see early and build some time in there so you can send off all the finales."

Not much in Marty's cart is legal in Jefferson County, so like many customers at Powder Keg Firework's in Jeffersonville, he crosses the bridge to shop. John Hood, also from Louisville, says his group plans to buy $1,200 to $1,500 worth of fireworks before the night of July 4. He says he knows what he buys in Jeffersonville is illegal to let off in Louisville. "We're here because we like to bend the rules a little bit."

Kentucky state law allows the sale of most fireworks, but allows cities and counties to opt out. In Jefferson County, anything that emits sparks, flames, or explodes in the air is illegal. But it isn't that way everywhere in Kentucky.

Hood says he would love to give his business to Louisville, but all the fireworks he wants are across the bridge in Indiana. "Today is the first time, we'll probably be here about four or five times today, and on the fourth we'll probably be back ten times."

In Louisville, the use of "safe and sane" fireworks are allowed within city limits from 5 p.m. to two hours after sunset from June 29 to July 9, and on July 4 from 10 a.m. to midnight. In both states, you must be at least 18 to ignite fireworks.

If you're loading those fireworks up and hitting the road, you'll be accompanied by an increased number of officers on both sides of the bridge.

Indiana State Police say they will be looking for people speeding, following too closely, not buckled up, and driving impaired. They also say they are putting heavy emphasis on ticketing for distracted driving.

"We've got zero tolerance over the holidays because of the number of people on the roadways, so if you get stopped by a trooper this weekend in the state of Indiana, you are going to get a ticket," said Sergeant Jerry Goodin of Indiana State Police.

Kentucky State Police say there will be extra officers on the road starting July 3. "With this increased enforcement effort, KSP troopers will be conducting saturation patrols and safety checkpoints across the state," said KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer.

So drive the speed limit, grab a sober ride, and if you are using fireworks, make sure the area is clear and a fire extinguisher is nearby.

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