Fireworks Extravaganza planned for Thursday

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Mississippi Adolescent Center is inviting the public tousher in the New Year on the facility grounds Thursday night forits fifth annual Fireworks Extravaganza.

The 30-minute fireworks display will feature well more than1,000 aerial explosions of color. The show begins at 7 p.m.Admission is free. MAC employees will be on hand to directtraffic.

MAC maintenance worker Justin Nowell said he doesn’t anticipaterain, but if Thursday turns into a wet night, the fireworks showwill be postponed until Friday night. The Weather Channel estimatesa 30 percent chance of rain in Brookhaven for New Year’s Eve.

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MAC Public Relations Director Taheti Watson said the FireworksExtravaganza costs around $2,000, all paid for by Friends of MAC, acommunity support group of paying members.

The show, started 10 years ago for the facility’s young maleclients, is an annual favorite and will continue, Watson said.However, as state revenues run dangerously low and MAC and otherMississippi Department of Mental Health facilities face fundingscrutiny, other events have been reduced or eliminated, shesaid.

“We haven’t cut down very much on our clients going out onexcursions, but we don’t do big parties any more,” Watson said.

Watson said MAC has worked to tighten its belt as theLegislature prepares to convene in January. MAC is in a precariousposition within MDMH as one of the only mental health facilitiesthat generates no matching funds and is paid for entirely withdepartment money. Earlier this year, the Mississippi Board ofMental Health approved a contingency plan for the facility’sclosure, and Gov. Haley Barbour later suggested MAC be closed tosave money in his executive budget recommendations.

“Whatever we can do to keep our jobs and our clients, we’ll do,”Watson said. “Until they shut our doors, we’re working like we’reopen.”