Last Saturday was our annual fireworks display and from what I’ve read in emails and twitter messages many of you think it was the best one yet! My family and I certainly enjoyed our evening.
There was a little bit of uncertainty building up to the event: the person who has run our fireworks night for as long as I can remember is on maternity leave, and we’ve had a restructure, outsourcing our parks department to Veolia – so there was potential for something to be missed. But in the event it all went extremely smoothly and it was a real team effort between Council staff and Veolia staff.
I was interviewed about the fireworks display on Saturday morning by BBC Three Counties Radio – they were pushing me to justify why we could still offer a free fireworks display in this economic climate, when elsewhere – Luton being their example – wasn’t able to.
Of course, it’s about how you choose to prioritise the budget. We discussed it long and hard here, and came to the conclusion that events like this, as well as our free Watford Live and Imagine Watford festivals, put Watford on the map for positive reasons. But much more importantly in my view, such events are part of the foundation stones of community spirit, part of why we are “proud of Watford”.
The fireworks display brings the community together – and it is a credit to everyone when some 40,000 people can come together on a dark November night, have a great time, feel totally safe and part of something good.
We collect money for charity on the night – which helps them greatly as charitable donations overall have fallen because of the recession. It also means the charity isn’t coming to us for a grant!
There is also a positive economic impact too for the town. I expect every one of the restaurants on the high street will have been packed full on Saturday night, as people decide to make an evening of it. The hope is that they’ll enjoy their experience and make a habit of dining out in Watford!
Times would have to be desperate before I would cancel the fireworks – and thankfully our finances are in a strong enough position that it’s not something that has to be on the cards.
I firmly believe that it’s precisely when times are tough we need to be able to still have fun together and that’s exactly what we did!