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The Business Side of the 4th of July Thumbnail

The Business Side of the 4th of July


As most middle-school age kids know, in the summer of 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies considered a resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. And on July 2nd of the same year, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence. Then, on July 4, 1776, the delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, arguably the nation’s most historic document.

From 1776 to the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of our country’s independence, with typical festivities ranging from casual family barbecues to local town parades, concerts, and fireworks sponsored by large US cities and televised worldwide.

Our family was on a short vacation the first week of July this year, so we did not do our typical family gathering, where we barbecue and head to our secret spot to watch local fireworks. As we watched the massive fireworks off the Pismo Beach pier, I thought about the business side of Independence Day.

So, it got me thinking. Just how big is this industry? How many fireworks shows are put on across the country? And how expensive is it to do?

Well, I was stunned to discover just how much we spend on blowing things up in the sky. Here’s what I found, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association:

  • The earliest documentation of fireworks dates to 7th century China; today, China produces almost 90% of the world’s fireworks.
  • There are about 14,000 July 4th fireworks celebrations across our country.
  • Many small town shows spend between $2,000 and $10,000 for a short show.
  • The larger cities – which often incorporate music, sophisticated computer coordination, and much bigger shells – spend about $3-$10,000 a minute. And the average show lasts approximately 17 minutes.
  • Last year, we spent over $1 billion on fireworks, with approximately $750 million spent by consumers and the balance coming from towns, cities, and corporations putting on public fireworks displays.
  • That $1 billion bought almost 300 million pounds of fireworks last year, about a pound of fireworks for every person in the US.
  • Walt Disney World buys the largest number of fireworks in the US per year due to their nightly fireworks shows over the Magic Kingdom.
  • The largest show in the country – the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks – is held with New York City as its backdrop, and its organizers launch an average of 1,600 shells per minute, which is over three times the average of an entire local community show. That show is viewed by over 3 million spectators and has a TV audience of over 8 million. They will launch over 50,000 shells from six barges over the Hudson River in 25 minutes.
  • The July Fourth Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular will attract over half a million spectators and another 8 million people tune in to watch on TV.
  • The National Park Service in Washington, DC, puts on an annual Fourth of July fireworks show at the National Mall. The show boasts the most large shells of any show in the country and lights up the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial at an estimated cost
    of $4 million.

So, how does this relate to financial planning? Well, I’m not sure it really does. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy your 4th of July and have learned a little bit.

Are your finances feeling like they might go up in smoke?  Call me at (949) 441-4410 for a free investment risk analysis.

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