It’s not signed yet. It’s not even written. But in an attempt to bail itself out of a jam, the Flagler Beach City commission at a special meeting this afternoon directed its city manager to draft a contract with a new, young, largely untested company to provide a 20-minute fireworks show on July 4.
The commission still has to approve the $24,000 contract, possibly as early as Thursday. If it does, and if the new company can pull it off, the city will have salvaged its Independence Day festivities after a huge misstep that could have cost Flagler Beach its iconic fireworks show. The city contacted its traditional fireworks producer, Fireworks by Santore, only a few weeks ago–too late to book the show. Santore was already booked.
But questions remain unanswered about the new company–officially, Island Outdoor Management, a lawn care company under whose name North Florida Pyrotechnics, a fictional entity, is registered by Ryan Allen. It’s done a few shows–but not many, and never to an audience as large as would be that on July 4 in Flagler Beach. The Green Cove Springs-based pyrotechnician addressed the commission today with a few verbal sparklers of his own.
“I don’t want to just do this once,” he said. “I want to be your fireworks guy from now on. So I gotta make this right, and I’m gonna make it right. So I got a lot riding on this.” He said he and three “helpers” will produce the show off the pier. (As for the fireworks themselves, he said “we’re going to mix a lot of product from a company called the Pyro Spectaculars.”)
“So what you see is what you get, it will be myself and it will be three shooters, three helpers to load in the show,” Allen said. “Our semi will arrive early that morning with the product on it and we’ll get to work.”
City commissioners were inquisitive about insurance coverage, safety, the show’s length, Allen’s experience. Scott Spradley, the Flagler Beach attorney who chaired the committee the commission appointed last year to study the future of Independence Day events and fireworks shows in the city, had additional questions that have not yet been answered, and that he outlined in a pair of letters circulated among commissioners last week.
“It seems like we’re still in the information gathering process,” Spradley said. “I think the contract will help out with some of these things, but I haven’t seen the contract.” For example, Allen mentioned insurance, but which company would be applying for it, since North Florida Pyrotechnics is “not a business. It’s a name used by another business. So we keep talking about North Florida pyrotechnics. Who is the business the city will be contracting with?”
Commissioner Jane Mealy’s motion to start drafting the contract named Island Outdoor Management.
“That’s why I’m asking for authorization to proceed with all of those details. We don’t have them yet,” City Manager William Whitson said. “It gives me what I need if that’s the will of the commission.”
Whether the contract is signed and executed or not, the Independence Day parade, organized by the Flagler Beach Rotary Club, will be on the 4th. “Everything related to the 4th is on the 4th,” Commissioner Eric Cooley said.
The contract will be drafted and submitted to the commission for approval, giving it another chance to vet its substance through the lens of Spradley’s questions.
“As a resident, as a local business owner and as a member and Chairperson of the 4th of July Celebration Committee, I have concerns, mostly having to do with a lack of necessary and important information from a vendor seeking to put on an event of this magnitude for the City of Flagler Beach,” Spradley wrote last week. “I question the applicant’s history or track record in the fireworks performance business, if it has one; its corporate structure is vague; and the matter of insurance is critically important, but is omitted from the paperwork I have seen, to date.”