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Some Lehi Residents Upset With Tradition of Shooting Off Cannons



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LEHI, Utah (AP) -- A city Independence Day tradition of shooting off cannons to celebrate the holiday has some residents in this suburban town complaining that the loud cannons are obnoxious.

Trevor Gerber's moved to his Lehi home in the spring of 2002 and on July 4 he was startled out of his sleep by a loud explosion. This year he says he's had enough and is asking the city council to ban the cannons.

Since the early 1900s, the city's firefighters have greeted every Fourth of July at 6 a.m. by setting off a series of 12 to 15 loud explosions throughout the city. Local officials say the event honors a tradition that may have begun by city pioneers in 1876, the country's centennial.

"It has been a tradition for as long as I can remember," said Councilman Johnny Barnes. "There are many who are passionate about it, but there are many people who are passionate about their sleep."

Councilman Mark Johnson said it's easy to adapt to the noise.

"I would say after eight years you get used to it," he said.

Fire Chief Dale Elkins says residents should appreciate the cannons instead of complain about them. "Our firefighters welcome the tradition and look forward to shooting them off," he said. "We do not look at this tradition as an irritant to our citizens, but a reminder of our freedoms and what the holiday means."

Firing weapons as a way to celebrate the holiday has a long history in Lehi.

In 1876, the town of about 1,200 observed Independence Day by firing 100 guns in honor of the number of years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The grand finale came when an anvil was fired by lighting a charge of black powder under it.

In 1903, a 13-gun salute was fired at dawn with a 45-gun salute at sunrise.

"They used to ring the bell and shoot the muskets off in front of the fire house," said fire marshal Kerry Evans. "It's a patriotic symbol of our freedoms."

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Information from: The Daily Herald www.harktheherald.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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