Drone shows go on

It seems that the show will go on for the 4th of July firework displays planned across Whidbey.

With or without a grant from Island County, it appears that the show will go on for the 4th of July firework displays planned across Whidbey Island.

Earlier this year, Island County commissioners decided to set aside $50,000 in lodging tax funds for community fireworks shows. Three chambers of commerce – Langley, Freeland and Oak Harbor – applied for the funds, but commissioners weren’t pleased with those who had opted to use drones to light the sky instead of traditional pyrotechnics.

The county’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee recommended funding the Langley show, but Commissioners Jill Johnson and Janet St. Clair sent the recommendation back to the committee for reconsideration with the reasoning that drones do not count as real fireworks.

The committee met May 22 and decided to request that the county use $150,000 to fund all three proposals. Commissioner Melanie Bacon, who wasn’t present at the original meeting where her fellow commissioners vetoed the committee’s first recommendation, indicated that her colleagues may have had a change of heart after “conversations with staff.”

Johnson, however, remained steadfast in her opinion that if they don’t blow up in the sky, drones aren’t considered fireworks. St. Clair could not be reached for comment by press time.

The new recommendation will be brought to the commissioners’ June 5 work session for discussion.

Leaders of the Freeland Chamber of Commerce have said they plan to put on the July 3rd fireworks event, even without the county’s help. Of the three applications, only theirs is for a show with the bang and flash of traditional pyrotechnics.

The Langley Chamber of Commerce has begun advertising “Langley Lights the Night,” an aerial light show planned for July 6. The festivities also include music, food and crafts.

The Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, which also jumped on the drone bandwagon this year, has Independence Day Celebration Fireworks listed on its website.