- Associated Press - Sunday, August 16, 2015

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) - The Mandan Park Board is considering a ban on private fireworks at city parks following complaints about spooked horses from the Mandan Rodeo Committee.

On Aug. 10, a motion was unanimously passed by the board at a meeting on the proposal, but it takes two readings to be enacted, the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1JgLEVv ) reported. The proposal has an exemption for professional displays at the Mandan Rodeo, as well as other public events that would need permits for fireworks.

The Mandan Rodeo Committee asked the park board to consider the ban, particularly at Dacotah Centennial Park, where it would like fireworks only to be allowed on July 3 and 4. Bruce Schirado, president of the Mandan Rodeo Committee, said the committee will still apply for the display permit for the public fireworks.

“It’s about nerves and spooking them. We’ve had fireworks shot into the horses,” Schirado said. “We have to do something or we will lose contestants. We have lost contestants. We had a world champion rider who said he won’t come back. He said he’d never seen anything like it.”

Although no one has reported an injury to their horse, some of them have been traumatized, according to Schirado.

“These are some of the best athletes from all over the world - both the riders and the horses - and this is a totally different atmosphere for them,” he said. “Some of these horses cost $100,000 or more.”

Past rodeo chairman Bruce Strinden said he’s concerned about the rodeo’s future because of the fireworks, and that top contestants now won’t go to Mandan.

“(The horses) get into a high level of anxiety when they virtually get into a ‘war.’ And that is what Dacotah Centennial Park has turned into,” he said.

Cole Higlin, parks and recreation director in Mandan, said the park district supports banning private fireworks at on all park property. City Administrator Jim Neubauer confirmed the park district has that authority.

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