COAL TOWNSHIP — The fireworks are back on.
Citizens for a Better Community (CBC) President Rich Jilinski confirmed Friday afternoon that the annual display shot from the Glen Burn bank overlooking Shamokin will occur Saturday, July 6, following an arrangement with property owner Edward Helfrick Jr., which involves officials from the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) patrolling the area.
CBC and Citizens Fireworks Inc. (CFI), which sets off the display, announced in November that they were looking for a new launch site after learning Helfrick intended to mine the area and his insurance would not permit fireworks in the area.
Helfrick, who did not return a message Friday evening for comment, no longer has immediate plans to mine, but had expressed concerns that he could be held liable if non-authorized people on his property were injured while accessing the area to watch the display, Jilinski said.
“His biggest concern — and I don’t blame the man — is liability,” Jilinski said. “His insurance doesn’t cover people with four-wheelers and partying. If someone gets hurt, he could get sued.”
CBC Secretary Angie Arnold explained that CBC pays for an insurance that covers CBC, CFI and Helfrick and all of his entities if property is damaged because of the fireworks. It doesn’t cover trespassers if they were to get hurt, she added.
Jilinski said Helfrick granted CBC and CFI a reprieve when Dave Porzi, director of operations for the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA), volunteered to have staff patrol the perimeter of Helfrick’s property around the time of the fireworks in an effort to keep non-essential people out of the area.
“The AOAA is graciously on board and willing to do it,” Jilinski said. “We are also looking into law enforcement officials riding with (AOAA) officials.”
Jilinski, who previously expressed gratitude toward Helfrick for allowing use of his property for past shows, noted that the arrangement might be a temporary solution as the group explores broader insurance options.
He credited Helfrick, CBC, Citizens Fireworks Inc. (CFI), officials from the City of Shamokin and AOAA for participating in several discussions.
Arnold said that Shamokin Mayor John Brown and Administrator Robert Slaby were instrumental to permitting this year’s show, adding that Helfrick was receptive to the idea of having AOAA patrol the area.
She said Helfrick noticed last year numerous people watching the fireworks display who were not permitted to be on the mountain. She has witnessed trespassers herself while watching the show from the intersection of Arch and Walnut streets.
“(Helfrick) was very open to any suggestions and working with us,” she said. “He wanted to help us in any way he could to keep this going.”