Neighborhood meetings could influence future of Rhythm & Booms

2013-01-18T06:00:00Z Neighborhood meetings could influence future of Rhythm & BoomsJEFF GLAZE | Wisconsin State Journal | jglaze@madison.com | 608-252-6138 madison.com

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.

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(12) Comments

  1. Bucky01
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    Bucky01 - January 18, 2013 1:17 pm
    This sounds like the residents who live by the airport complaining of noise, and those who live by Camp Randall complaining about the football games. SUCK IT UP, its one day per year, or, here's an exciting idea, how about have some friends and family over and enjoy the event. Then again, if you complain about things like this, you probably have minimal friends and family who can put up with you.
  2. mendotagirl431
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    mendotagirl431 - January 18, 2013 10:52 am
    Why not fire them off a barge on one of the lakes? They could be seen by thousands of people. The city could clean up the shells the next day (they float). Have a big festival downtown prior to the fireworks. (Soglin LOVES festivals - this could be his opening...)
  3. kashka-kat
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    kashka-kat - January 18, 2013 10:47 am
    One day a year people! And on a weekend, so easy to get away if you're so inclined. Awww can't we have any fun?

    It's only the fireworks I care about - I don't go to any of the has been 1960s bands.
  4. hcliff1
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    hcliff1 - January 18, 2013 10:21 am
    significantly reduce it! It is an attraction of out of town people who like big bangs and colorful displays for free, let them all visit the zoo!! Gangs gather and posture, it has nothing to do with community anymore. Bring it back to the community and move it out.........
  5. Report Abuse
    - January 18, 2013 10:07 am
    You can't just move it around. It is huge, so it also invloves a huge amount of planning. They have worked on the set-up, traffic, and everything that goes into this for years based on this location. Each time you move it it would cause all that to be redone, and of course it would take a few years to dial that in.
    Coliseum is a viable alternative, but then move it once and leave it there.
  6. Magnet
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    Magnet - January 18, 2013 9:54 am
    Yes, let other parts of the city enjoy the "benefits" of hosting R&B!

    I think there is a sense of fatigue in the Northside community from having had R&B in Warner Park for so long.
  7. Report Abuse
    - January 18, 2013 9:42 am
    The coliseum isn't large enough either. The problem is that there is no neighborhood around to handle to parking that would spill over or the people. At Warner there are street in 3 directions and yards everywhere.
    They said they wanted a neighborhood celebration....well it is. Everyone who lives around there can stay in the yards and watch it for miles in each direction.
  8. Report Abuse
    - January 18, 2013 9:39 am
    I lived there for 1 year 9 years ago and while it is a huge traffic mess, it wasalso Very convenient. while everyone else is trying to get there I just walked a block. Most of the residents of the area host big parties of family and friends and its an annual event they look forward to. My brother has lived there for 15 years. He loved it a few years and has complained about it some too, citing noise, traffic, garbage, debris. For the years that he didn't attend he just planned something either across or out of town that day or he chose to work.
  9. Rosalie
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    Rosalie - January 18, 2013 9:36 am
    I live on the Northside and the hassle is NOT minimal. Let's move it around the city to other neighborhoods.
  10. Report Abuse
    - January 18, 2013 9:33 am
    Mayor Soglin is Blowing it. They site the costs to the city, but the last line says the fireworks fund REIMBURSES them so that isn't a valid excuse!!
    Speaking of costs, Mifflin Street cost more than this and it only serves a few Thousand Drunk, drugged partiers age 18-28. Let's compare the value that each provide. Rhythm and Booms entertains 160-200k Families from all over the County for less cost and Mifflin street is just a huge drunken, stoned mess. Mifflin has had stabbings, rapes, vomitting, etc....basically Nothing of value and the city gets reimbursed nothing from them. As if we need any more reasons to shut down this embarrasment, then lets just blame the cost. If we need to choose where we spend our money, then lets choose the family event that serves 15 times more people. The other big change they made last year was cancelling the carnival. So the families take another hit. The carnival gave all the kids something to do all day while they waited for the big show. It also generates $$. They claimed that it tended to attract gang memebers. You know who else it attracted? Tens of thousands of kids!!! Having the carnival also helped with traffic, as it promoted people coming throughout the day rather than all trying to come at 8-9 right before the show. Since there wasn't anything for kids to do, most didn't come early anymore, so traffic was a mess right before the fireworks. Last year some still came early because they didn't know about the change, but after sitting there with kids for hours with Nothing to do, most will not make that mistake again. This year they will ALL come at 8-9 and traffic will be a mess. If we had a small problem with some gangs and fights, then Clean that up and kick them out. Don't allow them to ruin it for Thousands of others. Hire enough police to handle it (with the $$ you save from Mifflin ) Mifflin has had fights for years and they won't shut that mess down, but R & B has a few and they shut it down right away. Where the heck are the priorities of our city/county leaders?? If we want to talk about the costs, have they considered the positive economic impact it causes and creates? With 200,000 people, they all need to buy gas, eat, drink, and many of them come from outside Madison and even outside Dane co. They spend Millions here and provide tax revenues. I'm sure that this More than offsets the costs, but they fail to mention that in the equation! R&B has been a fantastic show for 20 years. It is famous throughout the midwest. People love it and travel from all over the county and beyond to see it. Now Soglin wants to Fix That? Fix the few small issues it has to make it better, smoother, safer, etc. but don't downsize it.
  11. Liberty-Is-Fun
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    Liberty-Is-Fun - January 18, 2013 9:02 am
    Move this to the Coliseum. There is more parking, better freeway access, not so many neighborhoods. I never understood why this was at Warner Park which is so difficult to get to for so many Madisonians.
  12. Blatant
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    Blatant - January 18, 2013 8:59 am
    I've lived on the Northside on on two different sides of the park and love R&B! To me, the hassle is minimal and I love how the neighborhoods buzz. I'm up for less carnival and just focus on the fireworks.
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