McCracken business plans eclipse fireworks show, some not happy

This March 9, 2016 file photo shows a total solar eclipse in Belitung, Indonesia.
This March 9, 2016 file photo shows a total solar eclipse in Belitung, Indonesia. 2016 AP file photo

Traders Mall in Reidland is planning a fireworks show for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, and some local residents aren't happy about it.

Carla Bartleman, wife of county commissioner and Reidland resident Bill Bartleman, said the show would be a bad idea.

"There are lots of neighborhoods in that area," she said. "If they are shooting off fireworks, people will not be able to see the total eclipse because they are going to be doing fireworks."

Richard Gray, co-owner of Traders Mall, said the fireworks are meant to be a small part of the eclipse and not take over the whole event.

The total eclipse portion over Paducah is supposed to last 2 minutes and 21 seconds, during which only one minute would have a fireworks display, he said.

"You'll see the first of the eclipse, you'll see the last of the eclipse, and you're actually going to see how we're covered up in the darkness too," Gray said. "We're not trying to make it bad for anybody, we are just trying to do something for the community."

Traders Mall is partnering with Pepsi MidAmerica for the event. There will be free bounce houses for kids and free hot dogs and Pepsi products for anyone who attends, and in the middle of the eclipse, a bright display of about 20 fireworks.

"The total blackness is what you want," Bartleman said. "You don't want fireworks in the middle of this because that's going to disrupt the whole thing."

Gray said most people he has talked with thought fireworks were a good idea.

"The people that we've talked to and told them about it said it would be awesome," he said. "Some shows last an hour or so, but that's not what we're doing. Some people think it's going to be fireworks the whole time during the (eclipse) when actually what we're doing is just trying to add to the experience."

Bartleman disagrees and several of her friends on Facebook concur.

In more than one Facebook post on Bartleman's timeline, she called for friends to share their dislike for the fireworks idea, contact Traders Mall and ask them to reconsider having the show.

One commenter posted in agreement, asking why fireworks couldn't be done the night before or the night of the eclipse in celebration.

Gray said he wants to do something no one else would be doing.

"Where else can you say that you got to see fireworks and got to see an eclipse and it was awesome?" he said. "Let the folks have a good time here and enjoy themselves and get their bellies full."

Bartleman said fireworks is the last thing needed for a total eclipse, noting that downtown Paducah's street lights will be turned off for the event.

"It just seems like an intrusion on everybody else's right to see this once in a lifetime event," she said.

The Traders Mall's celebration begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m.

The last time a total eclipse came over the Paducah area was the year 1442, but it will see another in 2024.