When the city of New Orleans thought their Independence Day would be firework-free this year, Will Smith thought he would give a hand in making sure everyone enjoyed the day.
According to the Associated Press, the actor paid $100,000 for the Louisiana city to have a fireworks display over the Mississippi River on Sunday. City officials said that Smith decided to pay after learning the historic City of New Orleans didn't plan a show for 2021.
Last year, New Orleans was forced to cancel the display due to the pandemic.
The Experience New Orleans website states that the fireworks are set off 2 barges that float on the Mississippi River, meaning any seat by the river gives you a perfect display of the colorful view.
A fireworks display produced by "Go 4th on the River" will take place in New Orleans along the Mississippi Riverfront at 9pm Sunday, July 4, 2021🎆🎉
The gift of city fireworks was made possible by actor and producer Will Smith, along with his company Westbrook👏⚜️ pic.twitter.com/oWI8b8YOap
— Mayor LaToya Cantrell (@mayorcantrell) July 2, 2021
Smith has recently been filming his new movie Emancipation in New Orleans, which follows the gripping real-life story of a runaway slave Peter. As the leading role, Smith follows the character of Peter, a real-life runaway slave who fought to evade his hunters through the Louisiana swamp in his journey to join the Union army.
Emancipation was written by William N. Collage and will be directed by Antoine Fuqua.
Reuters reported this week that U.S consumers who were already drowning in the rising prices of airfares, rental cars, and hotels over the Fourth of July weekend also had the cost of fireworks to contend with.
"All companies had to go up this year. We didn't have a choice," said Sharon Hunnewell-Johnson, president of Galaxy Fireworks in Tampa, Florida, which owns four retail stores and seventy seasonal locations across the state. Hunnewell-Johnson raised prices on some fireworks by between fifteen percent and thirty-five percent due to the impact of a global shipping backlog for Chinese-made goods.
Last year, she paid between $10,000 and $13,000 per shipping container of fireworks. It now costs more than $30,000 and continues to rise.
In 2019, 273 million pounds of fireworks were used, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association, which represents 250 member companies. Last year, that rose to 404.5 million pounds as the pandemic juiced demand.
Executive producer Julie Heckman explained that in a typical year, there is usually extra inventory on hand but last year's record sales left stocks depleted.
"All inventory was exhausted. Demand was unprecedented during the pandemic," she said.
The Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day, has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th Century. The tradition of setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, during the first organized celebration of Independence Day.
According to National Geographic, The American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) estimates that more than 14,000 fireworks displays light up U.S skies each 4th of July and take professionals all year to plan.
In 2007 revenues for the U.S. fireworks industry reached an all-time high of $930 million.