published Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Court snuffs out Lookouts fireworks

Fireworks shows at Lookouts games are on hold after owners of the Majestic 12 Cinema downtown complained that smoke from the blasts triggers the building’s smoke alarms.

On July 23, filmgoers at the Majestic reported that the fire alarms went off during a late showing. Some said employees blamed smoke from the fireworks show at AT&T Field that got into the theater’s heating and air conditioning system.

Friday, Hamilton County Chancellor Frank Brown issued a restraining order that stops the Lookouts from “setting off fireworks which generate smoke sufficient to trigger the fire alarm at the Theater (sic).”

But exactly how much smoke is that?

“I don’t understand the order as it’s worded,” Lookouts owner Frank Burke said Saturday.

After the July 23 incident, Majestic Assistant Manager Lee Smith said the same thing had happened “two or three times” since the theater opened this year.

“When they were shooting them off, the whole street was full of smoke and filled up the upper floor. It jammed our fire alarm and shut down the projector,” Smith told the Chattanooga Times Free Press at the time.

Burke said he doesn’t know if Lookouts fireworks are to blame, but he says he’s put on 100 to 150 fireworks shows over 11 years at the stadium without a problem until now.

“This Friday night’s show is in jeopardy until we have a hearing,” said Burke, who hopes to get the hearing moved up from its 8 a.m. Aug. 23 court date.

Burke said he couldn’t comment further until he can speak with his attorneys.

A manager on duty at the theater Saturday declined to comment. He referred questions to Dale Hurst in the company’s corporate headquarters in Carrollton, Ga.

There was no response to a message left for Mr. Hurst on Saturday.

Chattanooga attorney John P. Konvalinka, who sought the order for Majestic, also did not return calls seeking comment.

about Judy Walton...

Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...

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NoMyth said...

Fireworks are a wasteful expense and create an enormous amount of air pollution, in turn harming the lungs of everyone below. They should be cancelled regardless of impacts to smoke alarms.

August 8, 2010 at 2:01 p.m.

This injunction seems completely ridiculous and morbidly unfair.

What happened to "innocent until proven guilty?" The Lookouts, without getting a chance to defend themselves, will have to cancel their August 13th fireworks show unless they can get the court date moved. This will most likely result in angry customers demanding refunds, and it will certainly disrupt their business. When you consider the legal fees they will have to pony up, I wouldn't be surprised if they have to raise ticket prices, which will hurt all of us Chattanooga baseball fans.

Not only that, but where's the proof? The Lookouts have provided Chattanooga with hundreds of fireworks shows and no one, including the IMAX which is CLOSER, has ever had a problem. How can you even prove it's the fireworks and not something else anyway?

Also, am I supposed to believe it is fair to cancel a fireworks show serving hundreds of Chattanoogans for an 11:00 PM movie serving 20 people? Is it really fair for a business that has been around for years providing Chattanooga with a wonderful pastime to be forced to change their operations for a brand new movie theater? Are we really saying that Majestic should be able to halt Chattanooga fireworks because of their equipment issues?

In the end it comes down to a big business trying to bully a local one. (Look at the respective prices of popcorn for goodness sake.) It's ridiculous that the courts are allowing this. We will all be lucky if we don't have to pay as much to attend a Lookouts game as we do for the overpriced movies at Magestic.

August 11, 2010 at 9:45 a.m.
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