The annual La Jolla Cove Fourth of July fireworks display, on-again, off-again the past few weeks, is finally a go this year.
“We were lucky that we happened to find a fireworks purveyor that was willing to come down and do the show for us,” said Deborah Marengo, La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation Committee spokesperson, noting the 29th annual event will proceed at 9 p.m. Friday, July 4.
Early on, money was the problem, as Marengo said several weeks ago that donations were slow to come in and that prospects for hosting fireworks was “doubtful.”
Then, more recently, Marengo reported that residents and businesses had come through with the minimum $30,000 needed to stage the event. However, she said the fireworks were going to be canceled amid concerns that a pyrotechnics company might not be found in time to mount the show.
The depth of community feeling was evidenced when La Jolla Town Council trustee Ann Kerr Bache launched her own fundraising drive to host fireworks on July 5 when it was believed no one was available to do them on the 4th. Kerr Bache organizes the community's annual year-end holiday parade.
La Jolla fireworks was started originally in 1985 by La Jolla restaurateur George Hauer and a local bank.
Marengo said it was “a friend of a friend” who “knew somebody in the fireworks industry in Los Angeles who was not booked for the Fourth” that ultimately made the difference.
“I called him up, and he drove down from L.A., and he walked through everything, and he said, ‘We’re on,’ ” she said adding she’s gotten most of the donations she needs.
There will be a few changes this year, though, said Marengo, adding that some are good, some bad.
One bad is that the event will cost more.
“It’s going to cost a little bit more than $33,000 just for the pyrotechnics,” Marengo said, adding, “But we’re getting a full 30 minutes when we usually get 21.”
Marengo estimated the total fireworks cost this year for the show will be between $50,000 and $52,000.
Complicating the La Jolla Fireworks show the past few years has been litigation filed by environmental attorney Marco Gonzalez. Gonzalez has argued that all fireworks displays held over water should be required to do more stringent testing and clean-up to guard against pollution.
Recently, Gonzalez reached a settlement with the city in which he will receive $250,000 to end the litigation, while the city will have to perform environmental reviews before issuing future special event permits or discretionary park use permits.
Gonzalez targeted the La Jolla Cove fireworks show because it takes place above a protected marine area. Environmentalists contend that debris from the pyrotechnics is harmful to marine life.
The settlement details actions that must be taken by organizers, including erecting a fire-retardant debris barrier, in view of the reinstated La Jolla Cove fireworks show.
Though the funding target was eventually met, Marengo said fewer people donated this year than in the past.
“We actually only have 29 people who have donated money,” she said. “In the past, we’ve had 100 or more donate. It was just difficult this year to try and get enough people to come in with large and small contributions.”
Marengo gave special thanks to La Jollans David and Patsy Marino, who came through with a big donation for pyrotechnics.
Marengo added negotiations are under way with an entity in town to try and establish a structure so that fireworks can be funded each year without all the drama of recent years, where it was uncertain whether there would be enough money for the show to go on.
“We’re working on that,” she said. “We’ll probably have an announcement to make on that in a couple of weeks.”