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City leaders suggest scaling back Rhythm and Booms

Published On: Jan 16 2013 10:05:34 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 17 2013 07:22:13 AM CST

MADISON, Wis. -

The future of a popular Madison fireworks display is up on the air.

District 18 Alderwoman Anita Weier is suggesting shifting the Rhythm and Booms event from a regional attraction into more of a "neighborhood celebration."

Weier said nothing has been decided except a public meeting for everyone to share their ideas about the future of the event.

"It's a huge show. It's the biggest fireworks show I've ever seen," said Alex Hohlstein who prefers the oversized party, even if violence and congestion can come with it.

"You've got to give a little bit when you have something on that scale, so I don't mind it, and I think it's good for neighborhood businesses, and I like the big show," Hohlstein said.

The fireworks displays draws thousands of people each year, but problems in recent years have prompted officials to cancel the preceding carnival.

Mayor Paul Soglin is suggesting scaling back the event even more.

"We were trying to think of what to do, and the mayor recalls when it used to be a neighborhood celebration and he would like to get it back to that," Weier said. "Not something with 200,000 people, maybe not quite as much explosive force in fireworks.”

Sponsors, volunteers and private donors help put on the event that has lost financially for several years.

"It's not just free for us, and it's a time of economic hardship and tight budgets,” Weier said.

The future of Rhythm and Booms is up for discussion at an upcoming public meeting. Hohlstein said he won't attend the meeting, but he hopes this year's fireworks won't fizzle.

"I like the big show -- the bigger the better for something like that, I guess," Hohlstein said.

Weier and Alderwoman Satya Rhodes-Conway, who represent the districts near Warner Park, are hosting the public meeting. It starts at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Warner Park Recreational Center.

The alders suggest members of the public contact them directly with their ideas if they are unable to attend to the meeting.

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