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Laguna Beach lays plans to bring back Fourth of July fireworks

Fireworks light up the sky over Monument Point at Heisler Park during the Laguna Beach fireworks show on July 4, 2012.
Bursts of fireworks light up the sky over Monument Point at Heisler Park during the annual Laguna Beach fireworks show on July 4, 2012. There was no show last year due to the pandemic, but the City Council has given its blessing to a fireworks display this year.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach is moving forward with its plans to have a Fourth of July fireworks display this year.

The item was brought to the Laguna Beach City Council by the city’s public works department. The council authorized the city manager to come to an agreement with fireworks display vendor Pyro Spectaculars by Souza. An amount of up to $35,000 has been set aside to fund the fireworks show.

“We approved the fireworks contingent upon all health conditions allowing for them to go forward,” Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen said via text. “Our residents really enjoy these, and we hope to be able to inject a bit of fun into life after a rather dismal year. We have a right to cancel the contract if conditions aren’t right at the Fourth of July, but let’s hope with more people being vaccinated that we can have this fun event go forward safely.”

A staff report discussing the fireworks said the show could take place later in the summer, or even in the fall, if necessary. The city did not have the holiday fireworks show last year.

“This is an evolving situation with the pandemic and how quickly we all recover from it, so there’s not great clarity as to exactly what the situation is going to be in July,” City Manager John Pietig said. “We want to plan to celebrate things that are important to all of us as Americans, but we also need to have contingency plans, given the uncertainty of the environment that we’re operating in.”

Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf indicated that the loss of activities due to the coronavirus has resulted in the town receiving many visitors for its beaches and trails, which she suspected might impact community enthusiasm for big crowds. Nevertheless, Kempf said the fireworks are a community tradition.

“I think a lot of families look forward to the fireworks every year,” Kempf added.

Making plans to bring back the Independence Day fireworks was one of several considerations in the agenda bill as Orange County’s coronavirus numbers have continued to improve.

Following the issuance of updated guidelines for youth and adult sports by the California Department of Public Health, the council is directing staff to organize outdoor recreation classes and youth camps for the spring and summer that comply with state and local health orders. Among the expected offerings is the Junior Lifeguards program.

Most indoor recreation classes will remain suspended through the summer, or until Orange County progresses to the latter stages of reopening. The county is currently in the most-restrictive purple tier, although it is on track to advance to the red tier. A county in the yellow tier can hold indoor fitness classes at half capacity.

The status of other city-sponsored events is less clear. City officials recommended that events with large group gatherings be canceled or postponed until such a time that the state provides further guidance on the matter.

City events that fall into that category include the Patriots Day Parade, which was called off by organizers in October, as well as the All-City Youth Track Meet, the Brooks Street Surfing Classic and beach volleyball tournaments.

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