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Beach City Fireworks a Hot Issue

Times Staff Writer

Advocates of a huge beachfront July 4 fireworks show hope the Huntington Beach City Council will reverse itself and vote tonight to allow it, having rejected it last month.

One leading proponent, Councilwoman Pam Julien Houchen, said the proposal was revised to address public safety concerns.

The fireworks show would be the largest in the city’s history, sponsors say, drawing an estimated crowd of at least 40,000. The $50,000 price would be covered by private donations.

The city began hosting fireworks displays on the beach in the mid-1940s. The city moved the show to Huntington Beach High School in the mid-1970s as crowds grew more rough-and-tumble and police in riot gear set up makeshift beachside jails.

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Even without fireworks, downtown rowdiness has marred Fourth of July celebrations; seven years ago, more than 500 were arrested during a drunken spree of fire-setting and overturning patrol cars.

With clear memories of those days, the City Council has consistently rejected proposals to resume fireworks at the beach.

The city-appointed Fourth of July Parade Committee, however, says this year’s 100th anniversary of the local Independence Day parade deserves special consideration and is pushing the renewed proposal.

After the council rejected the proposal last month, committee members met with Police Chief Kenneth Small and offered to pay for floodlights to illuminate the beach before and after the show. Small said the offer on lighting doesn’t ease his opposition to a fireworks show.

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