Changes made to Memorial Day fireworks celebration to protect ducks

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The Parks and Recreation Department is making changes to protect park birds during the annual Star Spangled Celebration. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Parks and Recreation Department is making changes to protect park birds during the annual Star Spangled Celebration. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Animal welfare advocates have hounded city leaders to take measures to protect the ducks and geese they say are injured or killed in traffic as they flee from the sound of fireworks. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Animal welfare advocates have hounded city leaders to take measures to protect the ducks and geese they say are injured or killed in traffic as they flee from the sound of fireworks. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Parks and Recreation Department is making some changes to protect park birds during an annual Memorial Day fireworks show that will be held Friday night in Phoenix.

The Star Spangled Celebration honoring fallen heroes, veterans and first responders includes a fireworks show at Cesar Chavez Park in Laveen. The fireworks are launched on what’s commonly referred to as “the island,” which is a part of the park stretching into a pond.

Animal welfare advocates have long hounded the city to take measures to protect the ducks and geese that they say are injured or killed in traffic as they flee from the noisy celebration.

According to Gregg Bach of the Parks and Recreation Department, staff will place temporary fencing around the park to prevent water fowl from straying to the streets and raise the lake’s water level so baby birds will be able to hop in and out without getting hurt. They will also launch early fireworks allowing the birds to take shelter or get to a safe distance from the show.

City staff and volunteers will also be placed around the park to watch for birds in distress with guidance from animal rescue experts, Bach said.

The precautionary measures will be new to the Star Spangled Celebration, but one major part of the event is not changing, and that’s the fireworks launch site.

“They close off the island and all the feathered residents flock to the island to flee the people. Then they shoot those fireworks off right in front of them,” said Jaime Garcia, an animal advocate.

“They have no choice but to live here and I just think it's wrong to set them up.”

Garcia believes new leadership at the Parks and Recreation Department is the reason behind the precautions protecting water fowl. She believes the department will ultimately move the launch site. If the city doesn’t make a change, Jaime says she’ll encourage advocates and members of the community to flood city phone lines to put pressure on staffers.

When asked about moving the fireworks launch site, Bach said it is a possibility for future events but it would only happen with guidance from the fire marshal and fireworks company. Risk of brush fires is considered when determining a safe location for fireworks displays.

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