San Pedro’s Fourth of July fireworks show at Cabrillo Beach canceled

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

San Pedro’s nearly 75-year-old Fourth of July fireworks show at Cabrillo Beach has been canceled and replaced with a drone show that will take place two days after Independence Day, organizers said on Thursday, June 6.

Long Beach fireworks show canceled because of permitting issue

The popular fireworks show, which was founded by the late San Pedro icon and environmentalist John Olguin, has typically attracted hundreds each year to the Los Angeles city portion of Cabrillo Beach to celebrate July Fourth with a pyrotechnic spectacle over the water in the Port of LA’s Inner Harbor.

But this year’s show has been in doubt for three weeks. That’s when the company that was slated to put on the show notified Gary Dwight of the Cabrillo Beach Boosters, which organizes the event, that it wouldn’t be able to do so. That sent the boosters scrambling.

Unable to find a new producer, the boosters, a nonprofit that supports Cabrillo Beach, instead booked National Experiential, a company that has produced drone shows at the Santa Monica Pier, Hollywood Boulevard and other locations nationwide. Company representatives met with organizers and city officials, including 15th District Councilmember Tim McOsker, to finalize the plans on Thursday, June 6.

Unfortunately, Dwight said, the drone company was already booked for Independence Day — so the event was moved to July 6.

While not having a traditional Fourth of July fireworks display may not be ideal, however, both Dwight and McOsker expressed a sanguine view of the drone show, which will last about 15 minutes.

“A drone show will be something new and different for us and for the community,” McOsker said in a telephone interview. “As someone who’s been close to environmental issues with AltaSea, for example, this may be something we can do for our pets and for people who are sensitive to noise.

“(Olguin) was a great environmentalist,” McOsker added, “so maybe this is a way to honor his legacy.”

The news of the Cabrillo fireworks show’s cancellation came the same week another popular fireworks show in neighboring Long Beach — the Big Bang on the Bay — was also nixed. And the Port of LA’s Cars and Stripes Forever fireworks show, scheduled for June 28, is also in question, POLA spokesperson Phillip Sanfield said this week.

But while the Big Bang on the Bay was canceled because organizers couldn’t get a permit from the California Coastal Commission, that wasn’t the issue with the Cabrillo event or Cars and Stripes Forever. Instead, the Cabrillo vendor cited “a cornucopia of reasons” why it couldn’t produce a show this year, Dwight said.

The port’s regular fireworks vendor also bowed out, Sanfield said, leaving port officials scrambling to find an alternative fireworks company.

There are multiple obstacles to putting on fireworks shows, Sanfield and Dwight said.

Vendors who can put on the shows are getting harder to find, the cost of insurance is going up, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get all the permits submitted in time — because they now require extra steps and assurances of extensive water cleanups after the events.

“Fireworks (shows) are becoming increasingly challenging,” Sanfield said.

Fireworks shows, especially over-the-water ones, have also been subject to lawsuits and vocal condemnation from some environmentals.

That has caused debates over the pros and cons of fireworks shows, since government officials often touted organized events as one way to disinterest folks in setting off illegal fireworks in neighborhoods.

Of course, moving the Cabrillo event to July 6 also means police won’t be needed to patrol the gathering during one of the busiest nights of the year for law enforcement, McOsker said.

“One benefit of not having this show on the 4th of July,” he said, “is that our police and public safety resources won’t be stretched so thin on the 4th of July.”

The Port of Los Angeles, meanwhile, is still working to put on a traditional show for Cars and Stripes forever, Sanfield said.

That program, held on the Friday before the Fourth of July each year, features a classic car show, live bands and a spectacular finale of fireworks over port waters. The event will go on — this year on June 28 — but the fireworks finale remains in doubt for now.

While the port co-sponsors the Cabrillo Beach show, it is the San Pedro Boosters, that has organized the formal Fourth of July celebration at Cabrillo for years.

Hundreds of people head down to the beach, many in the early morning, to stake out a spot for the day on the sand to wait for the big show to set off after dark. The fireworks typically can be seen from many hillside neighborhoods throughout San Pedro, with many residents coming out on their porches or walking down to the corner to watch at a distance.

Until now.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.