Chapel Hill recently posted a survey about the future of its 4th of July celebration. They want to know: should they continue using fireworks or should they switch to drones?

I’m on team drone. Here’s why:

I miss the show in Kenan Stadium

For decades, fireworks in Chapel Hill were in Kenan Stadium. But in 2019, they switched to the Southern Village Community Park. That’s largely because it wasn’t safe – rogue fireworks went towards the crowd several times in the stadium – and it was also expensive: fireworks left scorch marks on the football turf, which had to be replaced.

Drones would not be a safety concern – there’s no need to separate the crowd from the fireworks. It seems like the show could then return to Kenan, where there’s a lot more seating and parking.

It’s better for people with PTSD, babies, dogs….

There’s an entire website on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs about how fireworks can be traumatic to people who served in combat or went through a fire, explosion or gun violence. Similarly, there are tons of articles and research about how fireworks harm household pets as well as birds, squirrels, frogs and fish.

Drones don’t make noise.

It’s better for the environment

Fireworks release pollution and deteriorate air quality. In areas with drought, they can cause fires.

It’s just cool

The drone shows are just really cool looking. I imagine they could be combined with music, lasers, and other elements to produce a great show.

The survey is available through July 11. This year’s celebration will have fireworks and we have more on that here.

Melody Kramer is a Peabody-award winning journalist whose work has appeared on NPR and member stations around the country, as well as in publications ranging from National Geographic to Esquire Magazine....