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For New Year's Eve, Unalaska City Council Opts For Smaller Fireworks Show

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

Despite spending most of its pyrotechnics budget during the Fourth of July, the City of Unalaska will spring for fireworks this New Year's Eve.

It'll just be a smaller display than usual.

Last week, the City Council voted to hire the Utah-based Lantis Fireworks & Lasers to put on a $32,302 show — without the cakes and roman candles that typically provide the splashier sparks.  

Councilor Roger Rowland said he supported the simpler bid because the July show ate up 75 percent of the funding that was supposed to cover both of the displays.

"Since it's this early in the fiscal year, I would like to observe fiscal responsibility and go with the smaller of the two proposals," said Rowland.

While most councilors agreed, Vice Mayor Dennis Robinson and Councilor Alejandro "Bong" Tungul wanted to draw on the council's contingency budget to pay for the bigger $35,202 display.

"It's a matter of $3,000," said Robinson. "I know it's taxpayer money, but this is a taxpayer benefit. This is something that people look forward to every year."

Going forward, it's unclear how much the city will spend on fireworks in the future.

City Manager Erin Reinders said the shows have become a greater expense since the death of the island's longtime provider, Larry Mattingly, and the closure of his company.

"For years, we had been getting a pretty darn good deal for the price of fireworks," said Reinders. "This last July was the first time we went with a different company, and we found the price was just about double what we'd been paying."

Lantis Fireworks & Lasers has been the only company to submit complete bids for Unalaska's business.

Whatever happens next year, several councilors said Lantis needs to tweak its methods for the upcoming New Year's Eve show after shooting July's fireworks too low in the sky.

They said the display should be higher so Unalaskans can see it more easily — whether they're watching among buildings in a residential area or from a wide-open spot on Front Beach.

Laura Kraegel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2020. She was KUCB's news director starting in 2019. We are proud to have her back in the spring of 2023 filling in as an interim reporter for KUCB.
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