Community input could be a key to determining what kind of event Rhythm & Booms is allowed to be in coming years.
The annual display, billed as the largest fireworks show in the Midwest, has become polarizing amongst some North Side residents. Many people in the area still cherish the regional fireworks extravaganza, but a growing number of residents see it as a nuisance.
"Neighbors have been subjected to drunken people wandering around their yards, and depending on which way the wind blows, pieces of fireworks shells landing on their roofs and property," said Ald. Anita Weier, 18th District.
Other groups have raised concerns about Rhythm & Booms' environmental impact on Warner Park. Those concerns led the City Council to allocate $25,000 for a study of plants, water and sediment in the park, though the analysis has not been completed.
Still, Weier says the amount of email she receives for or against Rhythm & Booms has been pretty evenly split. As a result, she and Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway, 12th District, are holding a public meeting Thursday to gather input from neighborhoods surrounding Warner Park.
2013 will be the 21st year for Rhythm & Booms, but the city has yet to agree on contract with the event's organizer, Madison Fireworks Fund.
Mayor Paul Soglin was in Washington, D.C. Thursday, but Weier said Soglin recalled a time when Rhythm & Booms was a smaller event and isn't opposed to going back to that.
Rhythm & Booms took a step in that direction last year when the city and the Fireworks Fund agreed to drop the carnival and delay the start of pre-fireworks festivities until 5 p.m. The changes made Rhythm & Booms less of an all-day event, which dropped the city's costs from $121,611 in 2011 to $93,808 last year. The Fireworks Fund reimbursed the city for expenses beyond a base cost that was $77,000 last year and $78,298 in 2011.
"There's no contract yet, but they do communicate on the issue," said mayoral spokeswoman Katie Crawley. "The mayor has told (Fireworks Fund President) Terry Kelly that he's going to wait to hear from the neighborhoods,"
Kelly was not available for comment Thursday.