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Cannon blast OK'd at home football games this season

Aug 19, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

A small-bore cannon will go off every time the Riverton High School football team scores a touchdown at Wolverine Field this fall.

The Riverton City Council has approved RHS's permit for the cannon.

Last year, a cannon was used only for Homecoming, with fireworks marking touchdowns during other games. Activities director Jeremy Hill said the local crowds seemed to appreciate the cannon as much "if not more than" the fireworks.

He added that the cannon -- which does not shoot any projectile -- poses less of a fire hazard and is not so likely to attract the interest of small children.

"(We) feel it'd be safer to go with the cannon, with someone who handles it and discharges it on a regular basis," Hill said.

Doc Holloway has been operating cannons for 13 years in Lander, seven years in Shoshoni and six years in Pavillion. He told council members that he always carries a fire extinguisher in case "something blows out the barrel."

His inventory includes a 1.5-inch bore cannon and a 2.25-inch bore cannon. The smaller cannon shoots 600 grains, while the larger shoots 1,200.

"The bigger you get on the bore it goes from a loud crack to more of a big boom," Holloway said.

He does not think the sound will be a nuisance to residents who live near RHS. In fact, Holloway will be shooting the cannons from a spot removed from the football field this year to ensure the blast can be heard over the stadium loudspeakers.

"My decibel level is probably lower than expected," Holloway said. "It's probably around 100-125 decibels."

According to the group Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers, a power saw creates about 110 decibels of sound.

The new cannon location will be cordoned off between two buildings, which will further buffer the noise for area residents, Holloway added.

"It'll be tucked in near one of our maintenance sheds on the southern side of RHS," Hill described. "We'll be able to isolate him and keep the public at a safe distance."

He noted that he did not receive any complaints about the cannon last year. Councilman Jonathan Faubion has spoken with administrators at SageWest Health Care at Riverton, who concurred that the cannon did not seem to cause any problems.

"If it (is a problem), they'd be more than happy to come speak to the council," Faubion said.

The noise permit is for 7-9:30 p.m. Sept. 5, Sept. 26, Oct. 10 and Oct. 17.

"Our intention is to recognize our athletes and our fans ... when we score a touchdown," Hill said. "Our intention is for this to be our celebration."

Other towns have similar rituals to recognize touchdowns. In Powell, Hill said, people light a big "P" on fire every time there is a touchdown, and emergency fire trucks sound their sirens.