Fireworks may return to Langley, quietly

Come this July, the skies of Langley could be lit with fireworks once again.

Come this July, the skies of Langley could be lit with fireworks once again.

Instead of the customary boom and accompanying fallout, however, lighted drones would move together effortlessly to create a quieter and cleaner aerial display of color.

Nicole Whittington-Johnson, the new executive director for the Langley Chamber of Commerce, has applied for a grant from Island County to put on the drone show. The county’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee has authorized $50,000 in funds for community fireworks displays for the Fourth of July, a request made earlier this year by county commissioners. The funds come from a 2% tax on overnight stays in unincorporated areas of the county.

Whittington-Johnson informed the city council Monday night of the chamber’s application. Individual use of pyrotechnics has been banned in Langley since 2021. She said the drone show would be on Saturday, July 6 as a way of enticing people to extend their Independence Day stays in the Village by the Sea to the weekend. The show would be in partnership with the Port of South Whidbey so it could be located near the Langley marina, which the port owns and operates. She said people will be able to see the display from 30 miles away.

“The drones are very eco-friendly and so it’s more of that regenerative approach, trying to find creative ways of keeping, you know, the nostalgia and emotional sentiments we all have around fireworks,” Whittington-Johnson said.

Councilmember Rhonda Salerno thought the drone display was a great idea to pursue without the noise of traditional fireworks and suggested that local bands could play during the show.

Councilmember Craig Cyr asked Whittington-Johnson if she had identified a company to deliver the display. She responded that she has found two companies that are willing, one of which is Midwest-based and has done a drone show in Sequim for three years. A lot of the same imagery, such as orcas and eagles, could be utilized for a show in Langley.

“That will be remarkable if that comes to pass,” Cyr said. In 2020, he followed through on a campaign promise to successfully ban the personal use of pyrotechnics within Langley city limits.

Whittington-Johnson said she expected to hear back about the grant by the end of April. The county Lodging Tax Advisory Committee was originally scheduled to convene this week to discuss the applications, but didn’t have enough members present to meet quorum, so the meeting has been postponed to April 25.