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A Dissent on Canceling July 4 Fireworks: When Palm Coast Dictates to Flagler Beach

| June 23, 2011

flagler beach fireworks cancelled

Last year's fireworks on the pier were rained on. This year, they'll be muffled out entirely. (© FlaglerLive)

By Jeremiah  Mahoney

Let me just start by saying that I could not have more respect for what the men and women who fight fires, fight crime, and teach children do for our county. I’ve been here just about all my life, and anyone who knows me knows where I stand: in Flagler County,  firefighters, police officers and teachers are under-compensated and undervalued.

Jeremiah Mahoney

In finalizing their heart-breaking decision to cancel Flagler County’s long-standing annual July 4th fireworks, the Flagler County Commission attempted to soften the blow by evoking the popular theme of “honoring our public servants.”  While it’s true that our county has withstood near-record temperatures and severe fires in the recent weeks, I feel cheapened by the commissioners’ blatant tugging at the heartstrings of the citizenry in an attempt to hide the true agenda behind canceling the fireworks.

What we are watching happen, I feel, is another example of Palm Coast’s Town Center dictating what they feel is “best” for the rest of the county.


The Live Column



That the county is dry is not up for debate. That is obvious. For that reason and the recommendation of County Fire Chief Don Petito, it was prudent to cancel the firework display at Town Center. However, the fire chief himself said that the show in Flagler Beach could proceed provided that we get the weekend rains that are predicted. Remember, Flagler Beach’s fireworks are shot from the end of our pier, 200 yards away from land, over the Atlantic Ocean.

The commission’s response, excluding Barbara Revels, was to instead cancel all the shows. Revels proposed waiting a week to cancel the Flagler Beach show. She was rebuffed with the logic that there would not be ample time for the public to know the shows were canceled.


Are you serious? News of the cancelation had already reached employees of mine who live in Volusia County before they got to work the next day. This is a prime example of how the Town Center powers-that-be behave when they feel that Flagler Beach is getting something that they cannot have. It’s like the child who takes his ball home when he loses a game and cannot play. It also follows a pattern that Town Center has shown in recent years-holding the July 4th fireworks in Town Center last year when Flagler Beach always held them, holding a Town Center event on the same day as the Tommy Tant Surf Contest after Palm Coast knew it had been set.

Now, the county is suggesting the fireworks will go off on Labor Day weekend. I’m hoping that means Flagler Beach will be having fireworks as well, but I suspect that I’ll just be disappointed again. The last time I checked, we all live in Flagler County, not Town Center. It’s time the rest of the county gets the same respect and consideration that Town Center receives.

Dr. Jeremiah Mahoney is co-owner of Flagler Dental in Palm Coast.

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50 Responses for “A Dissent on Canceling July 4 Fireworks: When Palm Coast Dictates to Flagler Beach”

  1. hammock girl says:

    so true i have lived here for 30 years and in the last years since Town Center came it seems like Flagler County has had to change everything

  2. Paco Yan says:

    Mahoney !

  3. Angela Moody McKay says:

    Completely agree! Bring back our fireworks on the 4th! No reason cancel them at the beach!

  4. Maureen Vidal says:

    Maybe because oh I don’t know…the fire dept is already overworked trying to fight fires without having to use manpower to babysit the fireworks display?

  5. Catherine Morgan says:

    It makes no sense to cancel fireworks that are already over the water…Because of a fire risk???? Are they kidding????

  6. Maureen Vidal says:

    OMG cry me a river! They said they would set them off on Labor Day! What is the big deal really?

    BTW isn’t the ban in the entire county? including such things as sparklers?

  7. Michelle Clair says:

    Way to go Miah! Amen!

  8. Allison Burnett Pineda says:

    i completely agree with you Maureen!

  9. Patti Powell says:

    I agree, that the fire works at the beach would not be a cause for concern and the Forestry Dept is taking care of the fires now. Not our local firemen

  10. lawabidingcitizen says:

    Dr. Mahoney is right.

    Flagler Beach has a tradition of fireworks on the 4th of July. That’s when we have them. Let Palm Coast start a tradition of their own. Why did our foolish commissioners agree to change that last year?

    As for this year, there’s no reason to cancel them no matter the fire danger west of here.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Flagler County commissioners played no role in last year’s decision to hold a fireworks show in Town Center. It was an idea hatched by WNZF, sponsored by the radio station and the Palm Coast Observer, and paid for by the Flagler Rotary, though Palm Coast has been interested in capitalizing on its push for more events in Town Center. This year, the Tourist Development Council voted to pay for both Flagler Beach’s and Town Center’s shows. The decision was ratified by the County Commission, though whether it was paying for the shows or not, the commission had the authority to ban all displays, as it did that of Hammock Beach as well.

  11. Cathy Clayton says:

    Aren’t we under a state of emergency? Can’t have everything.

  12. mara says:

    I don’t live far from the White Eagle, so I know a little about the fires, ok? And I don’t get this.

    The author is correct insofar as this would not seem to have anything to do with “drought conditions”. If the Flagler Beach fireworks are being shot from the water, out over the water, and the Chief OKd it as long as we got some rain. Has it been raining on the beachside lately? We just got poured on for a good 20-25 minute steady rain over here; third time in a week.

    Seems to me these commissioners need to clarify this decision if there’s been rain since the Chief’s statement. Obviously I’m not the only one with questions. FlaglerLive, are you reading this? Can you please ask them?

  13. Jim Guines says:

    When you have lived in one place and worked with an 11th grade student who becomes a dentist in the community and then see him make a major contribution to civic dialogue, you gotta be proud—GO JEREMIAH

  14. Next Gen says:

    Ok..yes the firefighters have been busy. Regardless if forestry has stepped up when we got the state of emergency. Everyone has been working tirelessly to assure no homes are lost and two lives were lost in the process in the line of duty. The drought index continued to climb to near 700 which is worse than 98. The writing is in the wall, one stray firework or ash and we could have a potential problem.

    Now stop worrying about the Town center. Flagler Beach was…as much as Bunnell once was.. The city will grow and most activities will eventually move inland excluding beach activities and the farmers market which a lot of the buyers are coming now out of Palm Coast so who knows.

  15. Spivey Clan says:

    Amen, brother! Fireworks over the ocean should not be endangering our county. We have been going to the Flagler Beach Fireworks for the past 15 years and feel that Towne Center should not dictate whether Flagler Beach can have their traditional celebration. Let them have their fireworks over Labor Day and let FB have them for the fourth! Thanks for being the voice!

  16. Patrick Delsordo says:

    ok, just because not ONE of you know the true power of fireworks, i will let you in on a few things… i have 22 years experience in shooting shows, handling the fireworks, and cleaning up shows gone bad… also, i have shot the show off th…e pier 7 years. the wind seems to come off the ocean just before the show starts… every year we are waiting for the fire marshal to give the ok (5 minutes before the show starts) if the wind picks up and embers from the shells float to the beach, houses, trees, businesses …. the people will blame the fireworks company…. last year FLAGLER BEACH chose NOT to hold the fireworks on the 4th… NOT PALM COAST…. dont think the fireworks will make it to the beach….ask the ppl that got burned 2 years ago…

  17. John Smith says:

    Patrick Thank you for some knowledge into this. I also have been to these Fireworks for the last 25 yrs we have been here. Everyone is upset because they can not come into the city and plug it up with traffic and crowds of people that just mill around for the fireworks. Well I can tell you from experience the embers from the fireworks can travel all the way down the SOUTH FLAGLER from SR 100 down to south 7th so the people that think they just go out are wrong. I would say that if all of these people that want the fireworks will except the responsibility for the residences and businesses that are here in place then so be it. We need more than a 25 minute rain believe me.

  18. basketballmom says:

    In my opinion, Flagler county just shot themselves in the foot cancelling both fireworks. Now some flagler county residents I spoke with are going to other counties for the 4th. All of the money flagler county could have made is going to be going elsewhere. They should have kept the flagler beach fireworks, since it is out over the ocean.

  19. Jennie Keppler says:

    Come on people. Where are your priorities? We are in a state of emergency and in drought conditions. Is it because the wind has shifted again and your not breathing smoke everyday that you forget the county has been on fire for well over a month now?? And yes the division of forestry has come in to help but the men and women in our county are still working 36hour shifts!! With no end in sight. The parade and all other activites are still going on for the 4th. But it is NOT worth the risk to the homes, business, and firefighters to watch a 15 minute firework show. It is disgusting when you people complain that the fireworks were cancelled. It’s a safety issue!!! Perhaps if you had to work a manditory 36 hour shift and be out in full gear with the hot temps or had the flames 5 feet from your back door, you would respect the decision that they have made.

  20. tulip says:

    Good post, Jennie K. People seem to think that a few minutes of a downpour solves the drought problem—NOT! The water just runs off because the land is sooo dry. After a downpour, go outside and brush aside some bark mulch around your plants—underneath the soil is dry, or barely wet.

    The commissioners, including Mr. Landon from PC all agreed with the firechief that the fireworks be cancelled and were unhappy they had to do it.

    Residents safety comes first and we can look forward to Labor Day.

  21. Mike Sokol says:

    We, at the beach, do not live in a pine forest. We do not have dried brush everywhere. We live on a SAND DUNE and a SALT MARSH. Anyone that lives at the beach knows that if it rained 15″, 15 minutes after the rain it’s gone, absorbed by the sand and funneled to the intercoastal. I’ve lived here over 25 years and have seen that many and more fireworks displays and in all of that time not 1 house has burned because of the fireworks. The injuries referenced earlier was because of a wayward firework. The BEACH is not PALM COAST!!! Hey Flagler Beach let’s remove ourselves from Flagler County. We are a different bread of cat!

  22. mara says:

    Patrick, can you point to a documented incident of this happening before?

    ” the wind seems to come off the ocean just before the show starts… every year we are waiting for the fire marshal to give the ok (5 minutes before the show starts) if the wind picks up and embers from the shells float to the beach, houses, trees, businesses”

    Does Flagler Beach have a documented history of this happening, where fires were caused?

    I believe that if the fireworks are shot out over the water, they should be safe. However, if we have some documentation showing otherwise, then this whole “pitting one town against another” type “journalism” NEEDS TO STOP.

  23. mara says:

    I also agree with this statement:

    “Now stop worrying about the Town center. Flagler Beach was…as much as Bunnell once was.. The city will grow and most activities will eventually move inland excluding beach activities and the farmers market which a lot of the buyers are coming now out of Palm Coast so who knows”

    I repeat, regardless of what happens with the fireworks, this “us against them” mentality has to stop being perpetuated. We are all human and we are all NEIGHBORS.

  24. Meg says:

    I’m not sure I read the same article as some of you. Miah is not saying to go on with the fireworks regardless of the conditions. His point is that the commisioners rushed into the decision for Flagler Beach. Had they waited, nobody would be able to question the validity or motive of their decision.

  25. Colleen says:

    Jeremiah!! Way to speak it!

    I have know Jeremiah since I was real young and he was my favorite fpc player and lifeguard. I love the fireworks on Flagler during the 4th!! It is something special. I am from Miami but my family is from Flagler so every year I would come up. People that have left and moved away from the county come back during the 4th just for the festivities and show. Nothing like watching the guys play 3 hrs worth of football in the water, all the little kids running around screaming and playing, the old people sitting around laughing and sharing. Its an amazing day. So ask why people get so upset about it, its because it a feeling and a day never forgotten. I am not going to sit here and say we need the fireworks are nothing bad will happen. But I do say the firechief and the people who dealwiththe fires know more about the sit then the commission. I do think it is sad that Flagler County once being a tighten community over the years have been seperated by Palm Coast. I do agree with the fact Palm Coast in some area is 5 mins from the beach others 15,20,30 .. Is that really to far to travel that they had to start their own 4th celebration. Let Flagler make there own decisions. Well I havesaid my peace and if there is fireworks at Flagler Beach the 4th of July I will drive from Deland to go watch and hang out with all my friends. And if there isnt any I will stay at home and watch them on TV

  26. FRANK DILIBERTO says:

    READ THIS AGAIN ….THIS IS THE TRUTH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! USE YOUR HEAD PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Come on people. Where are your priorities? We are in a state of emergency and in drought conditions. Is it because the wind has shifted again and your not breathing smoke everyday that you forget the county has been on fire for well over a month now?? And yes the division of forestry has come in to help but the men and women in our county are still working 36hour shifts!! With no end in sight. The parade and all other activites are still going on for the 4th. But it is NOT worth the risk to the homes, business, and firefighters to watch a 15 minute firework show. It is disgusting when you people complain that the fireworks were cancelled. It’s a safety issue!!! Perhaps if you had to work a manditory 36 hour shift and be out in full gear with the hot temps or had the flames 5 feet from your back door, you would respect the decision that they have made.

  27. Patti says:

    Grow up folks! Wind does come off the ocean…embers do travel. Firefighters and forestry workers are tired and still have their hands full. Are you seriously going to cry over missing 15 minutes of fireworks??? Enjoy the other celebrations of the day. Be grateful and celebrate you live in a free country! I do agree about the whole towne center politics, but it is what it is. Thanks to all who have been working so hard…let the rains come and the lightning not cause any more problems! Maybe the fireworks could go off w/o a problem…but is it worth it? I just don’t think so…

  28. Anonymous says:

    I’m actually pretty content with Flagler Beach not doing fireworks if Palm Coast isn’t. It will keep all the TRASH out of the beachside. Please Palm Coast residents, go to another county to celebrate!

  29. mara says:

    I’ll ask again–are there documented incidents of fire starting in Flagler Beach due to the fireworks being shot off the pier, out over the ocean?

  30. Linda Morgan says:

    I hope the the County Commissioners learned something here. In my opinion, it not always the news but how it is delivered. Everyone would of responded better if there was a “warning” that if the fire conditions and weather remained the same, we “might” have to cancel the 4th of July Fireworks. This way, it gives people some warning that their plans may change, it also allows us as a group to hope for the same thing and not be angry and pitted against each other.

  31. Jordan says:

    Well said Jeremiah.

  32. Kim says:

    I totally agree with your article. The problem I see is going to be when some people can’t see fireworks at a public display, they are going to make their own which will not be good for anyone, especially our overworked firefighters.

  33. John Smith says:

    Mara what are you going to do with the documentations? Take them to the commission, A documentation is NOT going to stop a fire it will burn just like the rest. There has been times when people were burned and yes there has been times when the pier burned and yes they have been because of a wayward fireworks and embers. Those times were even on the good times of the fireworks show so JUST THINK about as dry as we have been at the beach WHAT COULD HAPPEN and why make it the first time to be news worthy. YOU PEOPLE just do not get that these little rains we are getting do not give that much help in these drought conditions just some and we need more than just some. All of that growth on the dunes is a tinder box, and the more serious problem is going to be the IDIOTS that think they are above the law and put on a fireworks show on the beach or from their driveways what kind of a fire are they going to start and are they going to be responsible for a house or a business or even a treasured dune that is burned forever. Probably NOT because they will run like a rat after they start it. If a fireworks show is that important in your life then it would be great if you all just went to Daytona or St Aug, then go and we can have a nice quiet night at the beach.

  34. next time? says:

    when folks think “Florida,” they think beaches and sunshine. When folks think “flagler beach,” they think ” beautiful, but broke and boring.”. Let Town Center make their money parking and shuttle-ing the visitors to the beach every 4th of July. The beachside post-fireworks traffic nightmare would be eleviated, and people could spend their day at the beach instead of 5 miles away in a strip mall, just within reach of the ocean breezes but stuck in a glorified parking lot. Beachside moped and tent rentals can collaborate with Town Center shuttle and parking package deals and both groups share the economic spoils. Truth be told, there is one time during the year when Flagler Beach has an opportunity to get ahead financially, the rest of the year folks go to SuperTarget, McDonalds and the movies.
    Beachside businesses will invariably suffer this year, but we can look ahead to making things work for everyone involved in future years, and that includes the people that come to Flagler for what distinguishes it from wherever they come from: the beach, the unequalled and unobstructed view of the Atlantic ocean, our beautiful, quaint and walkable downtown with it’s great restaurants and unique stores.

  35. mara says:

    And when did the pier burn from fireworks, John? That’s the only thing I requested–something demonstrating that such a terrible thing happened in the past in Flagler Beach, due to fireworks. If you’re asserting that, it should be easy to reference for the rest of us. When, exactly, did this happen?

    Then, that way, see, we’d have all the facts and could decide for ourselves–and then act accordingly, whether WE feel it further necessary to “Take it to the Commissioners” any further or not.

    Anything COULD happen. That wasn’t the question. And frankly, the arrogance inherent in your response is unbelievably rude. “You people”–what people? Do you think you have a lock on telling all “us people” what we should and should not think?

    It is hard enough to have a discussion without all the facts, let alone with no civility.

  36. Eeets el guapo says:

    it is over the water,,, really ?? let the kids of flagler county have a little fun,,

  37. John Smith says:

    All you have to do is go to the fire dept and ask the (OLD) fire chief that was in charge at the time.

    And yes I can say you people when you people are wanting something done that can put people and property in danger for your own satisfaction. It will be hard enough to get through this weekend without something burning because of some dumbass doing

    their own show, and its like I said they will run like rats when they get something started.

    You talk about civility, why don’t you people just give it a break. The county is the one that made the call so the city has nothing to say one way or the other. When you all do not seem to understand what has been going on here with the fires and after a month and half of having to deal with them we have been extremely lucky so far with no homes lost yet why do you all insist on it.

    It is maybe not the fireworks launched from the pier OVER the water it is when they blowup and the remainder falls back to the beach as hot embers. What else is there to understand.

    If there is any questions, the question I have is why don’t people go to there FDs and ask the questions instead of thinking they KNOW what is and what has happened in the past (the burned pier, the burned people, the burned dune) 1 person burned is not worth the trouble I guess.

  38. mara says:

    So now we should go to the FDs and ask? I thought people like you knew all the answers?

  39. John Smith says:

    No people like you will not take anyones word except your own so go ask and find out on your own. You afraid to find out that Its the truth. I will be waiting with baited breath for your response since you will be so disappointed about what you find out. I KNOW what is right and YES I KNOW the answers.

  40. All of Flagler County says:

    Here’s to spending my $ in Daytona or St. Augustine this 4th of July. Nice work! Way to help out the community.

  41. mara says:

    I’m not the one making the claim. Post something to support your own claim–this way, others can decide if you’re right.

  42. John Smith says:

    Mara I just checked all of your post and YES you are making the claim twice. Since you live down by the white eagle one would think you would have a sense of whats going on with the fires and how sensitive things are . Granted the county has been getting some rain but the beach has gotten probably half of it. I do not have to post anything, go ask.

  43. mara says:

    No, John. You’re the one that claimed this:

    “There has been times when people were burned and yes there has been times when the pier burned and yes they have been because of a wayward fireworks and embers.”

    You clearly can’t back this claim up. I’m sorry you can’t do it.

  44. mara says:

    BRILLIANT, isn’t it? At $3.50 a gallon of gas, and ten thousand people in both cities the evening of July 4th, we’ll be sitting at home, listening to the neighbors shoot off firecrackers, instead of driving a couple miles then walking over the bridge–and spending what little money we have in Flagler Beach, where we would much rather spend it.

    “Here’s to spending my $ in Daytona or St. Augustine this 4th of July”

  45. Art Woosley says:

    Ah yes, our nation celebrates it’s birthday on the 4TH of July a great day, something everyone should take pride in.

    Of course, our city of Flagler Beach always welcomes people to come over the bridge, enjoy the day at the beach, and stay and watch the fireworks. However, when you welcome thousands of people into your small community to celebrate, you should also expect from them a certain amount of RESPECT.

    If F.B. residents truly wish to see the result of this influx, you may want to be downtown in the early morning hours on the 5TH, that clearly shows that many people to not have any respect for our city.

    Blocks of our downtown area, extending far to the north and south of the pier are trashed, with assorted garbage, including such things as dirty diapers, food rappers,cans etc.

    Yes, Flagler Beach residents pay for most of that cleanup,as well as police / rescue coverage etc.etc.

    So, if you do come over to celebrate, be so kind as to properly dispose of that garbage, instead of dropping it were you stand, or BETTER yet, take it back home with you.

    We are good hosts, and all we ask is that our visitors to be good guests. ***HAPPY 4 th***.

  46. John Smith says:

    This could be a historical statement After all of our disagreements Art I totally agree with you. Well said.

  47. Anonymous says:

    I personally witnessed the event where the fireworks shot into a crowd of people standing on the boardwalk. It was scary stuff with people panicking and children crying. I cant confirm this but I think a baby got severely burned in the incident.

  48. Chris Willis says:

    I say let Palm Coast have there fireworks….maybe rid out something that way!!!!!!

  49. Lois Hoffmann says:

    good job ‘miah look what u started =). hilarious!
    my son, fiance (remus smith) and i moved to orange park recently and since i had lived in palm coast for more than half of my life i took flagler county for granted. now, we come home every weekend, we spend our money in flagler county with the same merchants we know and trust. after this move all i want to do is finish school and come home to flagler county. we had planned on coming home for the forth to see the fireworks, visit family and just enjoy our community. i love the flagler beach festivities on the fourth, as much as the halloween trickortreating on belle terre pkwy, and the christmas boat parade. or fishing on the pier. and i respect our history when i pass the espanola cemetery or visit the princess place preserve. OUR community is GREAT!! ALL of OUR community. appreciate what we do have in the midst of these fires and remember to pray for mara and the monks in korona. pray for our firefighters this fourth… stop bickering, at least we still have our homes, and each other (though imperfect)! God smiled on us with this rain but it’s not over yet!

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