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After Bust, Big Bay Boom May Not Return to Imperial Beach

A corrupt computer file ended Fourth of July festivities in one big boom. Despite an offer for a free fireworks show to make up for the mishap, explosives are only part of the cost.

The company behind the now-infamous says it will pay for another sky show, but Imperial Beach might not be part of it.

Fireworks make up only part of the event cost, said Imperial Beach City Manager Gary Brown. 

Half of the $60,000 it costs to host the Big Bay Boom in Imperial Beach comes from the city to pay for public safety and emergency services. The Port of San Diego and sponsors covered other costs.

“I guess the timing is an issue,” Brown said Thursday. “We will be working with the Big Bay Boom people and I guess we’d have to see what the details are.

 “If we took it to council and they wanted to spend it, we’d do it.”

August Santore, co-owner of Garden State Fireworks, said the company would be willing to donate the $8,000 worth of fireworks necessary for IB’s show, but may not be willing to cover costs beyond pyrotechnics.

“If I could, I’d love to just write everybody a check for everything that’s went wrong in my life, but I can’t,” he said via phone Friday. “I wouldn’t be in business very long.”

Last month, the city revised its 2012-13 budget. No money was set aside for 2013 fireworks out of the city's . Instead, the city may seek sponsors or reconsider funding the event next year.

Logistical issues like environmental permits may prevent a show from happening before next July, said Sandy Purdon, whose firm H.P. Purdon & Co. organized the event.

“It just might be too complicated, but we’re going to talk about it with the port,” Purdon said. “The city of Imperial beach will be involved in discussions.”

Fireworks make up about one-third of more than $300,000 necessary to fund the Big Bay Boom, he said.

It’s still too soon to tell whether port funding could assist in reducing Imperial Beach costs next year, said Marguerite Elicone with the Port of San Diego.

“We’re still in discussions until we find a resolution,” she said.

In what quickly became international news, fireworks on the pier in Imperial Beach and on barges in San Diego Bay launched prematurely for a short but spectacular Fourth of July show.

Hundreds of thousands of people packed the bayfront, and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested by cities, the Port of San Diego and sponsors went up in smoke in less than 30 seconds.

A day after the bust heard round the world, Garden State Fireworks, the company in charge of the show’s pyrotechnics, said they would be willing to provide a complimentary show before next year.

No date has been set, and event sponsors and organizers said it’s still too soon to say what will happen.

The Big Bay Bust was caused when primary and secondary computer files crossed, Santore said.

 “There are things in life we don’t like, and that was one of them,” he said Friday to IB Patch. “If something was wrong Monday or Tuesday, we could have flown in equipment from all over the world, but there was no indication anything was wrong.”

Technology will come back and bite people in any industry, but it doesn’t keep people from using a service, he said.

“Airplanes crash sometimes, and people still get on planes,” he said. “Toyota killed hundreds of people this year and everybody’s buying Toyotas.”

The Santore family business has carried out firework shows for Olympic ceremonies, at the Statue of Liberty, on The Mall in Washington, D.C. and other locations for more than 100 years.

Garden State Fireworks has lost thousands of dollars at the Big Bay Boom in the past three years, he said, but high-profile shows are the cost the company pays “to stay in the limelight.”

The Big Bay Boom certainly placed Garden State Fireworks in the limelight. The mishap has led to more media attention than plenty of fireworks shows that had malfunctions, he said.

“We’ve got more attention than when bin Laden died, and all I really did was a show that went up and didn’t last long enough.”

“It’s a heartbreaker for us and all the people who came out to attend on the Fourth of July,” he said. “But I’m sure people will continue to watch our fireworks.”

Nancyib July 07, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Nice article Kahri. I sure hope IB can figure out how to participate. It is a great family fun day. I hope IB will bring this to its' residence if they can't handle it instead of cancelling it. Please keep us informed.
Beth S July 07, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Good article, but it's a shame that this company is so blaise about making this right for the people in IB. Sure, people will watch Garden State's fireworks shows but not because people consciously pay attention to the company that is providing the fireworks. No one pays attention to that, and that is to the Santore family's benefit. The Santore family should make this right for the people in IB and do a little more than donating the fireworks. At least go 50-50 on the cost for public services with the city. Why should the city pay twice for those services? It wasn't their computer that caused the problem with the show....The city is the damaged party in this. The city and its residents should be made whole.
Paula Winchester July 07, 2012 at 10:41 PM
I am torn on this issue, on one hand it would have been nice to have the display go off without a hitch, on the other, would we even remember them at this point if they had? We made national news! We got so much advertisement with everyone hearing about the story and seeing our beautiful little beach in the news. I'm sure the city will see its way clear to come up with the money for the expenses for a new display. Anything that shines a light on us is a good thing. I wonder how many people who came here on Wednesday looked around and said "wow this is a great place!". They got to see all of our improvements, the art installations, surf henge, our new hotel going in, how owners of businesses and property are taking pride in their places. When the next fireworks display takes place then even more people will come and discover IB's beauty. I'm sure the city can afford the money for that much good exposure.
John Galt July 07, 2012 at 10:51 PM
It is a little late for Garden State Fireworks to host the 2012 show. It was their mistake, and they need to make good. The only way out I see for Garden State Fireworks is to host the 2013 July 4th Fireworks on their dime. They need to immediately make that offer and get this behind them. Police and Fire is a major expense. What is fair for that?. Maybe Garden State Fireworks should also do the 2014 July 4th show on their dime. This should about even the cost for the 2012 bust, and not break the company. It was a mistake, and they are liable. I do want to demand of our elected officials the contracts be made public for this. No reason this information is not avaiable.
IBRalph July 07, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Personally, it seems to me that the old Imperial Beach Chili & Jazz Festival would be a better community event. Lots of people out and about with good food and great music. It was a nice family event that lasted for several hours. People could walk around and greet old friends, lounge on the grass picnic style, and enjoy the another great day at the beach.....or Veterans Park.....or wherever?? And I think it was used to raise money for the Boys & Girls Club of IB, right?
barbara July 08, 2012 at 12:31 AM
It's still a great family day and good for all the local businesses to have the fireworks on the 4th of July in IB. If I were taking my family to the beach that day, I'd go to one where there would be fireworks at night. People come, spend the afternoon/evening, and stay for the show. The town benefits. Let Mr. Santore who just did "...a show that went up and didn’t last long enough” pay for a show next year that lasts the expected length of time. It will be hard to beat that lead-in though ;-)

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