Hillfest fireworks generate interest, burn ban concerns

Festival goers watch the fireworks display at the 2012 Hillfest.

Drought and wind speeds sparked worries of fire after fireworks were shot off during the annual Hillfest celebration at St. Edward’s University earlier this month.

The University Programming Board’s (UPB) annual Hillfest on Sept. 7 welcomed about 1650 new and returning students as well as their guests to St. Edward’s with a variety of attractions including carnival rides, live bands and an attention-grabbing fireworks display to cap the night.

Students attending the festival found the fireworks to be one of the best parts of the evening. Even many on-campus residents who did not want to initially go to the festival came out to watch them go off.

“I thought they were incredible,” sophomore Ben Garcia said. “It was a lot better than last year.”

Upon learning that the National Weather Service warned to regulate burning and pyrotechnics on the day of Hillfest due to 23 mph winds and prolonged dry conditions, though, many students were concerned.

Another major concern among students was how the UPB was able to set off fireworks within city limits, near a local neighborhood and so low to the ground.

Sophomore Michael Haywood was surprised by the fact that the school was able to launch fireworks under all of these circumstances.

“I was suspicious at first when I realized that the fireworks were exploding very low in the air,” said Haywood. “Then I realized that people were living just across the street.”

Sebastian Roman, a member of UPB and the main coordinator of Hillfest, said that UPB made sure that the burn ban was lifted before proceeding with the show and filled out all of the necessary permits.

“In collaboration with many offices on campus, we proceeded to work with a company which displays fireworks and they got all of the permits that were necessary and contacted the fire department to be present at the event,” Roman said.

Roman went on to say that after setting up all of the permits, UPB sent out information to the local community informing them of the fireworks show so they would not be surprised or alarmed on the night of the event. UPB also invited many of those living in the surrounding community to attend the show. 

“I feel Hillfest was a success this year and everything went smoothly during the event.” Roman said. “The fireworks were probably the biggest non-food related attraction. It was a tradition we were glad to bring back.”

UPB has no current plans for a fireworks show in the future and are planning other events that students can find either online at CollegiateLink or by going to the Student Life office on third floor of Ragsdale.