Houston's Freedom Over Texas canceled but fireworks still a go

By Ryan Korsgard - Reporter

HOUSTON - As the water came up along the Buffalo Bayou Wednesday near downtown Houston, it crept out of its banks and headed for Eleanor Tinsley Park.  

For more than 30 years, Freedom Over Texas has been a Houston tradition.  It has welcomed hundreds of thousands of Houstonians.  But for the first time ever, the event is off.

However, officials said the fireworks that were scheduled to begin at 9:35 p.m. will go on as planned.

VIDEO: Mayor Turner on fireworks cancellation

“It’s gut-wrenching, because there’s been such a great effort going into the show. It’s one of our signature events, it’s been around for a long time. It’s been a couple generations now. So it’s very hard, but I know we made the right decision,” said Susan Christian from the Mayor’s Office of Special Events. "It was a tough one. We were wringing our hands and watching all of the forecasts. Working with our emergency ops, homeland security, fire departments, police departments. We don’t take these decisions lightly, you know this. We’re troupers, the show goes on, the show will always go on in our hearts. We’ve always been able to pull it off. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate."

Christian and city leaders made the decision to cancel the musical performances and the family-friendly event.  She said it was out of concern for the safety of workers and for all of those attending.  

Workers quickly started hauling away what it took days to build.  

"Unfortunately, 31 years now, this event has been going on and we’ve had a lot of rain. You guys have been with us, reporting on-site when we’ve taken on a lot of rain. And this is, unfortunately, the only time we’ve had to cancel, at least most of the show. Good news is that our spirits will start flying with those fireworks," Christian said.

While the musical performances were canceled, the fireworks will still happen. The fireworks are expected at 9:35 p.m., however, the park and Allen Parkway will remain closed as workers finish cleaning up after the canceled event. 

Christian said the city would refund the face value of the tickets purchased for Freedom Over Texas and asked for patience as the city will work with its ticket vendor to sort it out.

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