Wednesday, December 11, 2013
FREEPORT — L.L. Bean's new plan to launch fireworks from two sites July 7 has heightened one couple's concerns about the expanded display's potential impact on their farm animals.
Susan Campbell and Joe Carroll worry that their four horses and 10 cows will be frightened to the point of stampeding and hurting themselves when L.L. Bean concludes its 100th Anniversary Hometown Celebration with a half-hour of fireworks.
The couple have been unable to borrow or lease a livestock trailer so they could safely remove Katie, a 30-year-old rescued pony that's prone to panic attacks, from their 100-acre farm on Hunter Road.
"It's been over 12 years since Katie has been in a horse trailer and she gets panicked in confined places," Campbell said Monday. "So it looks like she's going to be at the farm for the fireworks and I'm going to have animals going in all directions."
L.L. Bean executives have billed the fireworks as the "biggest" in Maine, using larger shells and lasting 10 minutes longer than usual displays over Freeport's village. The company has hired Central Maine Pyrotechnics for the display.
Smaller shells, ranging from 1 to 3 inches in diameter, will be launched from a playing field on Morse Street between the L.L. Bean campus and Freeport High School, said Laurie Brooks, company spokeswoman. East of Interstate 295 and near the village center, the field is the usual launch site for town fireworks.
Brooks said larger shells, ranging from 4 to 6 inches in diameter, will be launched from a field at Pine Tree Academy on Pownal Road. The academy is west of I-295, about a half-mile from the village center and from the farm on Hunter Road.
State and local fire officials approved the academy's field as a safe launch site for the larger display. But a test launch on May 30 showed that smaller shells don't go high or far enough to be visible above the village, so the decision was made to launch smaller shells from the field on Morse Street.
"We've been working with the state fire marshal as well as public safety officials in town to ensure a safe and effective fireworks display," Brooks said in an email response to written questions. "The event has been planned to ensure visibility throughout downtown Freeport."
Campbell and Carroll have been pressing L.L. Bean to scale back the display and launch only from the Morse Street site.
They're gathering signatures from supporters and planning to deliver the petition to company executives on Thursday.
According to Brooks, fire officials said larger shells cannot be launched from the Morse Street site.
"There's not enough clearance," Brooks said via email. "If we only launch from the (Morse Street) field, then we can't use the larger shells and it will restrict the viewing area to only L.L. Bean's Discovery Park."
With larger shells and two launching areas, the fireworks will be visible from multiple locations in the village, Brooks said.
More than 20,000 people are expected to attend the display, which will start at 9 p.m. after a free concert by Chris Isaak. It is one of several special events that start with a 10-kilometer road race on July 4.
L.L. Bean has offered to help Campbell and Carroll pay for veterinary and transportation services to take Katie, a pony that was abused, and a draft pony named Hunter from the farm during the fireworks.
But they haven't found a suitable livestock trailer that's available to borrow or lease, and L.L. Bean has declined to buy one at a cost of $6,000, Campbell said.
Brooks said, "We have been working directly with Ms. Campbell and have reached out to her repeatedly to find a viable solution to her concerns."
Looking ahead to July 7, Campbell said she plans to keep her horses and cows outdoors in separate paddocks, where they will be less likely to hurt themselves if they get riled by the fireworks.
The test launch May 30 caused a minor stampede, she said, but keeping the animals in the barn would be more dangerous.
Campbell also plans to give her animals a natural sedative several days before the fireworks. She said other residents of west Freeport are bracing for window-rattling explosions, including several owners of nervous pets and two people who have significant health problems.
"I truly want L.L. Bean to think about what they're doing," Campbell said. "If they can see their way to another plan, I'll be eternally grateful."
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: email@example.com