Oh say can you see a 4th without fireworks?
April 19, 2010
Ice cream, sunscreen, nautical flags snapping crisply in the ocean breeze. And as darkness falls, a night sky bursting with fireworks shot from a floating barge as stirring patriotic music fills the air.
Enjoy it while you can. Because in 2011, it looks like the sun is going to set on a long-running L.A. County tradition: the free 4th of July fireworks show in Marina del Rey.
The pyrotechnical display—sponsored by the Department of Beaches and Harbors since the 1980s—is one small budget casualty as the county seeks to bridge a huge $510.5 million shortfall in the coming fiscal year.
“We pay for the shows in advance, so this July 4th show is funded from this year’s budget,” Brad Fleischer, division chief of the department’s Administrative Services Division, said in an email. “There will not be a show in 2011 unless funding is restored or another funding source is identified.”
The $81,000 Independence Day extravaganza certainly isn’t the biggest item on the county chopping block in a year when service cuts and layoffs are looming.
But, with some 25,000 spectators turning out for the fireworks each year, the show occupies an important niche on the area’s public events calendar. Crowds watch from Fisherman’s Village, Burton Chace Park and Marina (Mother’s) Beach, and from as far away as Venice and Playa del Rey.
“This has been a tradition in the Westside for many years, and from a tourism perspective, it helps bring business into the Marina del Rey/Venice community,” Beverly Moore, executive director of the Marina del Rey Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in a statement. “Some hotels book rooms months in advance specifically for the fireworks, so hotels, harbor tours, charter boat companies, restaurants, retailers and marine services and supplies all benefit from this event.”
“This is the Marina’s big event, this and the Boat Parade,” added Irving Perry, western manager for Zambelli Fireworks, which puts on the show. “This is their biggie of the year.”
The fireworks cost about $30,000, with barge and tugboat costs running $23,750 and traffic and other expenses making up the rest of the budget for the event.
Fleischer acknowledges that the fireworks are a staple of the Marina’s summer season. But he says that the difficult budget outlook, along with increasingly complex safety and environmental issues related to putting on the show, means that the fireworks are “not considered one of the core services that we provide—keeping the Marina clean and functioning.”