By John Schaffner
The Fourth of July fireworks show at Lenox Square Mall will have a few obvious changes this year — mostly the effects of the recession.
No national headliner talent will entertain the throngs who turn out for the show. Instead, regional musicians will perform.
The budget for the fireworks show has not been reduced, however, and the footprint for the event will remain essentially the same, the hired organizing and promotional team for the event told members of the Neighborhood Planning Unit B Public Safety Committee at its May 5 meeting.
They said fewer people are expected to attend the fireworks at the mall this year. One of the biggest changes they announced could contribute to that attendance decline: Those driving to the mall for the fireworks will be charged to park at Lenox Square, likely $10.
That raised questions among NPU board members as to where people will park and what accommodations the promoters are making for people who drive to the mall from outlying areas. They fear that those people will try to park up and down the streets of surrounding residential neighborhoods, a problem in the past.
Sally Silver, the chairwoman of the NPU’s Transportation and Development Committee, asked the promoters to work out a plan for handling that traffic and to come back to the NPU with the plan before the event.
The promoters said they are working with MARTA to provide assistance in handling the crowds. They also said advertisements for the event will let people know there will be a charge for parking at the mall after the regular closing of 6 p.m. that day.
They acknowledged that people smart enough to drop off their cars in the mall lot around 4:30 p.m. likely will not have to pay the parking fee.
NPU-B Chairman Jeff Shell said the application for the special event could not be held up pending approval of a transportation and parking plan because of the time needed to fulfill all of the city’s requirements.
Furthermore, Shell pointed out that since 2007, special events do not require the approval of NPUs. He said the appearance before the NPU is a courtesy. So NPU-B unanimously approved the event plans.
The fireworks show will be televised again, likely by WSB-TV, but the length of the telecast might be shortened because of the economy.
A representative of the July 4 Peachtree Road Race also attended the meeting and told the NPU board that the major change in the race this year is that it will once again end in Piedmont Park, returning to a former tradition.