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Drones take over Fourth of July celebrations

Illustration by Kate Walker

Drones take over Fourth of July celebrations


The Future. In an increasing number of cities across the country, drones are replacing fireworks as the go-to choice for public shows — a move meant to cut down on the threat of accidental fires in areas experiencing extreme dryness. With drones already being used in Shanghai for their official New Year’s celebration and at SXSW for an innovative marketing campaign for Halo, drones may never totally replace fireworks but could prove to be an exciting alternative for areas worried about environmental impact.

Programmable awe
Yesterday, many may have been treated to a drone show instead of a fireworks display.

  • According to Axios, cities like Galveston, Texas; North Lake Tahoe, California; and Lakewood, Colorado, all switched to drone shows for their July 4th celebrations.
  • Some, like Parker, Colorado, are trying it on a “one-year trial” to see how residents respond.
  • Drone-show companies, like Hireuavpro.com, said that demand had skyrocketed so much this year that they’ve been sold out for months.

The drone shows — which can include anywhere from 100 to 500 drones and last for about ten minutes — can create various images in the sky (the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell) by acting like a giant Lite-Brite. They can also simulate fireworks if you’re missing that old-fashioned feeling.

No smoke show
While many people love fireworks, they’ve also been criticized for their noise (especially by pet owners), pollution, and harm to the environment. And in Western states that have been rocked by drought, they also pose a fire hazard. For example, in Douglas County, Colorado, holiday fireworks shows have caused three separate fires.

That doesn’t mean that fireworks are going away anytime soon. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, the industry generated $262 million in revenue from public shows and another $2.2 billion from consumer purchases. So, yeah, fireworks are still very hot.

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