Here Comes the Booms: Canby High School Football Will Continue Fireworks Tradition This Season

The Canby School District’s longstanding tradition of celebrating touchdowns with a fireworks display at high school football games will continue this season. We’re…really pretty sure of it this time.

The district made the announcement late Thursday afternoon. It represented an abrupt about-face from the decision they’d made just two days earlier, in which they agreed to forego the aerial fireworks displays at the request of the city.

The city’s request followed an appearance at the Aug. 21 city council meeting by resident Paul Ylvisaker, who lives two blocks from Canby High School and suffers from chronic pain and PTSD that the random and unexpected explosions exacerbate.

Ylvisaker presented a letter from his doctor verifying this condition, as well as a petition signed by over 50 other residents and businesses (two veterinary clinics and a senior care facility).

When the school district announced on Tuesday that it would be ending the touchdown celebrations, that have been a Canby tradition for two to three decades (depending on who you ask), it sparked by an immediate and ferocious outcry, particularly on the Canby Now Facebook group. Supporters of the tradition began circulating an online petition of their own (more than 750 signatures as of this writing), with many expressing dismay that the decision had come about so quickly, and seemingly without the input or direction of elected officials or the general public.

It was all, evidently, a big misunderstanding, in which the school district misinterpreted the city’s “request” as something more along the lines of a “directive.”

“Since then, the city has clarified that its request was non-binding and the existing noise ordinance does allow for continued use of fireworks at CHS football games,” the school district’s statement on Thursday said.

The exemption the statement alludes to was passed by the City Council just last year. It specifically allows the use of fireworks at any events sanctioned by the city, fire district and school district, and thereby exempts them from the noise ordinance.

Because of this exemption, asking nicely is really all the city can do, until and unless the city council votes to change the ordinance.

Ironically, this exemption was a direct result of the first time Mr. Ylvisaker attempted to raise this issue, before last year’s football season. At that time, the city also decided to address the fact that the existing noise ordinance was, well, silent on whether the football fireworks were even allowed in the first place (previously, the high school had been required to get a variance for their fireworks celebrations).

Superintendent Goodall and School Board Vice Chair Mike Zagyva met with Ylvisaker at the district office on Thursday before the new statement was released.

“Today, district leaders met with the petitioner and notified him that fireworks would continue at Canby High School football games this fall,” the statement said. “Though it is not a complete solution, it is worth noting that Western Fireworks already donates to Canby High School the least percussive fireworks available. The district will continue to work toward a solution that is less disturbing for the members of our community affected by the fireworks.”

The statement concluded with the district expressing appreciation for the passion the community had displayed in support of Cougar football, and for new head football coach Jimmy Joyce and his team’s efforts to rebuild the program to “inspire a culture of excellence, both on the field and in the classroom.”

The district encouraged the community to “continue this level of engagement and support in academics and extracurricular activities.”

The Canby football season opens at home next Friday, Sept. 6.

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