Hazardous fireworks debris left on youth baseball fields

8:06 AM, Jul 8, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn - Some young baseball players St. Paul saw a dimmer side to the Fourth of July, after someone set off fireworks on the Hayden Heights Recreation Center ball fields and left hazardous debris all over the park.

Beth Geretschlaeger, of St. Paul, says she came to the fields Friday when her son wanted to test out his new baseball glove, a practice that proved nearly impossible.

"Every time a ball would go past me, it would bounce up because of a firework," said Joe Taylor, who is on the Hayden Heights under 12 team.

Geretschlaeger, who coaches the team, picked up several garbage bags full of firework debris as well as shattered glass from explosive fireworks devices.

"Could you imagine these boys sliding into glass? It would hurt, cut them. Coaches' worst nightmare," she said.

Geretschlaeger returned Saturday afternoon with a majority of the team to pick up debris that sprawled across several fields. They even discovered fireworks that had not been detonated and burned grass.

"Ninety percent of fireworks we picked up are illegal. They are not supposed to be here," said Geretschlaeger. "I am still just finding a lot of bottle rocket remains."

The Minnesota State Fire Marshal bans consumer fireworks from public property like parks, and says aerial and explosive fireworks are illegal. Prohibited fireworks include firecrackers, bottle rockets, missiles, roman candles, mortars and shells. The Minnesota State Fire Marshal's Office says examples of legal fireworks include items such as sparklers, cones and tubes that emit sparks, and novelty items like snakes, and party poppers. 

The City of St. Paul Parks and Recreation spokesperson Brad Meyer said St. Paul puts on a fireworks show so residents don't have to set off their own display.

"Although not extremely common in the larger heavily used parks, it is something we deal with around the 4th of July in smaller neighborhood parks. There are 170 total parks in Saint Paul so many neighborhood parks become the equivalent of a suburban's resident's back yard, so it can become an issue this time of year," said Brad Meyer. "As always, we encourage folks to contact police if they see this type of activity that isn't authorized."

After several hours, the team collected several garbage bags of debris and cleared the field for practice, ahead of their Monday game.

"They should not be in here anyways, and I don't see why they would do it," said Joe Taylor.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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