It’s no secret that the state of Alabama boasts some of the country’s best Independence Day fireworks shows. But natives from Muscle Shoals to Dauphin Island plan their patriotic celebrations around a trip to Birmingham for Thunder on the Mountain.
For more than 15 years, our Birmingham 4th of July has been distinguished with an exquisite fireworks display (“Thunder on the Mountain”) unrivaled by any other. For more than 20 minutes, celebrants are treated to an onslaught of sparkling colors, dazzling patterns and breathtaking effects, all set to popular and patriotic music. Every year the soundtrack is different, and the fireworks are arranged in synch with it.
The display is centered under Birmingham’s iconic statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire. Not only is Vulcan the largest cast-iron statue in the world, but he is also considered one of the United States’ most significant works of civic art. The 50-ton, 56-foot fire god was designed by Italian-born sculptor Giuseppe Moretti to serve as Birmingham’s entry for the 1904 World’s Fair. It has stood sentinel on Red Mountain since the 1930s, symbolizing Birmingham’s roots in the iron and steel industry.
Today, the four-acre park that sprawls out below Vulcan’s gaze makes a perfect arena to lie back and enjoy the patriotic spectacle. Even those who make the pilgrimage every year to this Birmingham 4th of July tradition still get chills when the starry bursts begin.
Thunder on the Mountain is spearheaded by Deborah Neu of Pyro Productions. The daughter of legendary fireworks mogul “Crazy Bill” Cairns, Ms. Neu has taken her father’s legacy to a new level. Her company is known as the most advanced fireworks display company in the southeast, running an average of 170 fireworks shows per year around the entire state of Alabama. (Parents will breathe a sigh of relief that they consistently maintain a 100% safety record.) Every show is custom-designed by Ms. Neu and her team, who choreograph the fireworks around a unique soundtrack and voiceover created in partnership with the Vulcan Park Foundation.
This year’s festivities will take place on Monday, July 4 at 9pm. Visitors are encouraged to share their best photos and videos of the event on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #VulcanFireworks.
We look forward to celebrating with our community and visitors from all over the great state of Alabama during this Birmingham 4th of July tradition.
Quick Reference for Jeep Owners:
Latest Update on Recall Information for the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee:
Chrysler Recall code: S27 & S28
NHTSA Recall #16V249000
Recent News on Actor’s Death Potentially Attributed to Defective Transmission
Anton Yelchin was a 27-year-old aspiring actor living in Los Angeles, California until his untimely death yesterday. When leaving his home, just outside the security gate his Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled down an incline driveway pinning the actor to the gate entrance to his residence, killing the young man.
Update: Los Angeles Police have confirmed the model year of Anton’s Jeep was a 2015 and was affected by the transmission recall.
Mr. Yelchin was found by a friend in his driveway unresponsive. His Jeep’s engine was running at the time he was discovered, and according to CBSNews, the Los Angles Police Department has been using language that Anton Yelchin did not properly shift the car into Park.
Above a 2015 model year Jeep Grand Cherokee, weighing nearly 5000 lbs, is similar to the car which killed 27-year old Yelchin.
Putter or “Mushroom” Shifter
The gear selector’s design drew criticism and complaints since its launch in 2014 model year Jeeps, many calling it confusing to operate and feeling “unnatural.” As the gear selector does not have grooves to give the driver feeling of adequately moving the gear selector into Park, Reverse, and other drive modes. The National Highway Transportation Safety Board collected over 300 complaints, which included more than 120 reports of crashes and 41 injuries.
Automotive posting boards across the web have comments from owners and drivers stating that the shifter is difficult to operate and have experienced the car not being in Park.
Our Firm’s Sentiment
Unfortunately, catastrophic events like this highlight the importance of the legal standard that manufacturers of consumer products have a duty to design and manufacture safe products so that consumers do not get injured or killed when using those products. It is even more tragic if Mr. Yelchin’s death was the result of the claimed defectively designed Jeep Grand Cherokee’s gear shifter. If that is the case, hopefully, more attention will be given to this danger.
What was Jeep’s Response to the Recall?
The transmission with the confusing design and questionable components can be widely found throughout the Jeep/Fiat model range, affecting over 1.1 million vehicles including the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300. Jeeps, in particular, received specific recalls due to solenoid issues as recently as April 2016, citing that the solenoid, which is an electrical wire component, was also recalled as this could result in the car locking in Neutral.
A “Tip” Sheet Included
Gear shifters, like steering wheels and seat belts, are critical components to operation and driver safety. The fact that a “tip sheet” was included for their E-Shift design suggests the manufacturer is aware that their shifter is confusing to operate. According to Jalopnik, a car news website, the shifter has now been changed to a more traditional gear selector for the late 2016 model years.
What You Can Do
While we are saddened by the loss of a young man, and keep his family in our prayers, if you are a Jeep owner we hope you take action to help ensure this type of tragedy does not happen again.
As a registered owner you have likely received a recall letter in the mail from the manufacturer, or potentially a courtesy notice from your dealer. The April recall of the solenoid is a serious matter that may have contributed to Mr. Yelchin’s death, and could lead to future deaths or injuries.
Protect your family and others by scheduling an appointment with your Chrysler/Jeep dealer as soon as possible. The Jeep Grand Cherokee weighs nearly 5000 lbs, and as the recent tragedy shows, the slightest incline can result in death.
Anton Yelchin 1989 – 2016
Anton was born in St. Petersburg, Russia to his celebrity figure-skating parents Irina and Viktor Yelchin. He was their only son.
Receiving refugee status in 1989, they fled the Soviet Union settling in Los Angeles, California. Anton began acting at an early age, appearing in independent films and is best known for his role playing “Pavel Chekov” in the rebooted Star Trek movies by J.J. Abrams. Anton will appear posthumously in the third of Abram’s films, Star Trek Beyond (2016).