ShareThis Page

Pyrotechnics Guild International convention to offer 4 fireworks displays in Butler County

| Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013, 11:34 p.m.
Conor Ralph | Tribune-Review
Chris Mikula (left), 38, of Cranberry, and daughter, Andi, 8, watch fireworks at Cranberry Township Community Park on July 13, 2013. Andi pushed the start button for the fireworks, after her name was drawn in a contest earlier in the day.
Conor Ralph | Tribune-Review
Juston Davenport, 45, and son Spencer, 8, of Cranberry watch the finale of fireworks at Cranberry Township Community Park on July 13, 2013. The fireworks ended Cranberry Community Days, which ran from July 11-13.
Conor Ralph | Tribune-Review
Don and Betsy Bialosky of Allison Park watch fireworks at Cranberry Township Community Park on July 13, 2013. The fireworks ended Cranberry Community Days, which ran from July 11-13.
Conor Ralph | Tribune-Review
Attendees watch fireworks at Cranberry Township Community Park on July 13, 2013. The fireworks ended Cranberry Community Days, which ran from July 11-13.

More than 100,000 people could descend on Butler County next week to watch spectacular fireworks displays, and police are working to keep tempers from flaring, too, as motorists navigate two-lane, country roads.

The “2013 Boom & a Blast” Pyrotechnics Guild International convention kicks off Saturday at Cooper's Lake Campground off Interstate 79 in Worth. It will present four huge public fireworks displays, the two largest on Aug. 11 and 16. Convention organizers expect more than 10,000 vehicles each of those days.

Interstate 79 and Route 422 are two main arteries to get people there. However, the Interstate 79 interchange with Route 422 is under construction, which means motorists will detour to smaller roads. Currie Road provides the main access into the campgrounds.

Worth does not have a police department and relies on state police, who worry that traffic may not flow as smoothly as organizers hope.

“We've had a point of contention with these folks,” state police Lt. Eric Hermick, commander of the Butler barracks, said Friday. “If there's a crash on Route 19, or Interstate 79, there's a problem.”

Hermick said troopers will conduct roving patrols on I-79 and Route 422, and PennDOT is supplying signs and cones to block road berms so that people won't pull off along the interstate to watch the fireworks displays starting at 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 11, 13, 14 and 16. All fireworks shows depend on the weather.

Butler Sheriff Mike Slupe and county tourism director Jack Cohen said sheriff's deputies will direct motorists to alternate routes, including routes 19 and 108. Slupe is confident law enforcement officials can handle the extra traffic.

“This is simply, probably, one of the single-most largest events that has come to Butler County,” Slupe said, “and I think that looking at our role and looking at public safety, taking that all into account, this is a no-brainer.”

Local emergency officials, including deputy sheriffs, should keep traffic flowing, said Cohen, the head of Butler County's Tourism & Convention Bureau.

“Everybody says, ‘OK, we got this,' ” Cohen said.

Cohen said the tourism bureau will pick up the costs of two deputies at Cooper's Lake.

Slupe said he'll pay overtime for eight deputies to assist with traffic control on roads outside the campground. He anticipates the cost will be about $10,000, but double that when including benefits.

Several weeks ago, Region 13 Task Force, a regional emergency response group, staged exercises to determine how emergency officials would handle a mass-casualty event at the convention.

Neighboring Lawrence County, through Region 13, is providing a mobile communications trailer to help tie in emergency responder radios.

The cost to the tourism bureau for staging the event, including paying $50,000 to convention organizers PGI and $30,000 for marketing, will be about $100,000, Cohen said.

The tourism bureau put aside money from annual hotel tax collections for several years to pay for the event, Cohen said.

Organizers anticipate the thousands of conventioneers and visitors will pump at least $5 million into the economy.

“It's a small price to pay for these kinds of revenues in our community,” Cohen said.

Bill Vidonic is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-380-5621 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.