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Despite Rains and Fire Chief’s OK, Flagler Beach Fireworks Won’t Be Reignited

| June 29, 2011

flagler beach cancelled fireworks

It's raining again on Flagler Beach's fireworks parade. (© FlaglerLive)

Updated at 12:49 p.m. with Barbara Revels comments.

Heavy, almost daily rains have helped dampen Flagler County’s wildfire emergency considerably since before last weekend. The rains began, ironically, soon after the county commission voted to cancel this year’s Independence Day fireworks in Flagler Beach and at Town Center, on the recommendation of County Fire Chief Don Don Petito.

The decision to cancel set off angry and conflicting reactions.

This week, Petito was sticking to his recommendation for two of the three planned fireworks, but he conceding that setting them off in Flagler Beach would be permissible. “With the amount of rain we’ve gotten and the amount of rain that’s forecasted,” Petito said, “we’d probably be OK to do the fireworks at the pier but definitely not at the Town Center and definitely not at the Hammock.”

The county commission reconsidered the matter at a budget workshop on Monday—and stuck by its earlier decision for several reasons, not least of which the fireworks company’s own inability, at this point, to reverse course.

“Fireworks are a lot more complex than people realize. It’s not as simple as throwing a load of fireworks on the back of a truck and going and doing a display. There’s a lot more that’s involved,” said Anthony Santore, head of Fireworks by Santore Inc., the Palm Coast-based company contracted, for $30,000, to do the Town Center and Flagler Beach fireworks. “Unfortunately, we’re not in a position to turn it back on again. The good news is we’re planning a very spectacular show for whatever day the city of Flagler Beach decides to move forward with the event.”

Santore said his company cannot overextend itself with fireworks shows: it wouldn’t be safe, and it wouldn’t give spectators their money’s worth, given the complexity of planning a proper show. “The biggest issue is the misconception of how fast a fireworks show can be produced, how quickly we can react,” Santore said. “It’s a very, very, very long process.” Several of the company’s customers have cancelled shows this season for similar reasons.

County Commissioner Barbara Revels had different view. “I would have liked to have seen the county commission vote to have it be able to go forward and then try to see whatever the chamber could do with Santore on some basis, some minimal basis, something,” Revels Wednesday morning. “I understand if they’ve taken all the resources and sold them, but it seems like to me in a two-week time period before the fireworks, I’d be surprised–I’m probably wrong–but that they could take a whole fireworks display and sell it to somebody else on such short notice, but I guess they were able to do that, and good for them if they were able to do that.”

Other commissioners were were reluctant to reverse course.

“I’m as disappointed as anybody. I planned to go and would have liked to have gone,” Commission Chairman Alan Peterson said. Aside from Santore’s position, the county was not willing to rush to find another company, nor was it willing to take the risk of a fireworks show, conditions being still relatively brittle—if not in Flagler Beach, then elsewhere.

The county has a strict burn ban in effect that forbids so much as the lighting of hand-held sparklers. Fires are still burning (six of them as of Tuesday evening, including the 5,100-acre Espanola fire). Commissioners did not want to send the message to county residents that it would be fine to set off fireworks on their own. A single minor rocket fired off in a Palm Coast cul de sac could land in a pine tree canopy and set it off, for example, triggering a sudden emergency. The county is also facing steep bills from the fire emergency, all of which it will have to pay for itself.

A new date for the fireworks hasn’t been set, but chances are that the fireworks will be scheduled for Labor Day.

“This is our home town,” Santore said. “We’re going to really pour it on when they have this show. We’re going to give them far more than they’re paying for because we want to make sure the residents of Flagler Beach are happy with us and feel like they’ve gotten a spectacular display.”

To Revels, the entire matter exposed a couple of issues: Who’s in control of fireworks in certain areas, and what role does Flagler Beach play in its own special events. The Tourist Development Council is footing the bill, through the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce. “Then you have the city of Flagler Beach who you’d think would have some say as to whether or not they’re ready for it,” Revels said, “and I was being told that the city of Flagler Beach had no decision whatsoever in it and it was between the chamber of commerce and their fireworks provider as to whether or not they chose to go forward with it. So even if you had a county who had said OK, and you had the city of Flagler Beach who wanted it, you could have had a chamber that said naaah, or our contract isn’t going to work out, or we’ve made other arrangements. So to me it showed a situation that maybe needs to be rectified in the future, maybe not. Maybe that’s the way it should be. I don’t know. I’m just saying it was a surprise to discover that.

Charlotte Marten reports on county residents’ reactions:

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17 Responses for “Despite Rains and Fire Chief’s OK, Flagler Beach Fireworks Won’t Be Reignited”

  1. lawabidingcitizen says:

    Since Flagler Beach is apparently now a wholly owned subsidiary of the county, it’s past time to turn over the water, police, fire and sanitation departments, they already have the building dept, over to them too, so our FB commissioners can concentrate on tossing our taxes down the drain of legal fees, consultants, signage, scenic byways, urban blight and ripping up streets.

  2. Beachbum says:

    Since when is Santore and Sons, located on CR 305, part of Palm Coast? Their production facility is in the county, not Palm Coast. I get so tired of Palm Coast trying to claim everything in this county!!

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Beachbum, the Santore company split back in April into two independent companies. Fireworks by Santore Inc., the company that produces the displays, is based in Palm Coast. Ralph Santore and Sons, Inc., the company that manufactures fireworks, is the one on CR305. They’re now entirely independent of each other.

  3. Richie says:

    That’s interesting Pierre about the split between Anthony Santore (Fireworks by Santore) and Ralph Santore (Santore and Sons). I hope they are not truly independent and still cooperate a lot. I didn’t see anything about it before and always assumed the County money would be staying local. An article in the NewsJournal about the Coke Zero 400 notes that Anthony Santore “also imports products from Europe, China and Japan”. It would be interesting to know how much of his product in Flagler would have been imported, rather than local.
    Santore and Sons (the local manufacturer) website proudly points out that their latest technology is designed to eliminate any combustible material falling to earth. Maybe we all assume that modern pyrotechnics are the same as we always knew them and dont follow progress in technology enough.

  4. Dee says:

    Palm Coast has the best beaches in Florida, in my opinion.

  5. Citizen says:

    The Dentist hit this one out of the park. Don’t be duped people, this is about one thing and one thing only. The money you are spending on the 4th of July in Flagler County. The Flagler County Commission and the TDC knew that short of a hurricane there was no way it would be safe in the heavily wooded surroundings of Town Center and the Hammock to do fireworks this year. Flagler Beach has very little wooded areas in comparison and launches fireworks over the ocean so it was plausible to go on with the rain forecasted (that came and then some). What does that mean? All that buying power would shift to one place in the county, Flagler Beach, because it would be the only game in town for the 4th. The County Commission knew this and that was the only thing considered. This is just an attempt to save face after they realized the public backlash it created. Now they say it’s OK ( but only because they know it’s too late to get a show together now ). This is not about fireworks… it’s about MONEY. Now the local Flagler Beach businesses who depend on this day every year will pay deeply in an already crappy economy. If Palm Coast can’t play…. NOBODY is going to play.

  6. Original Floridian says:

    I agree with you Citizen. I was here long before Palm Coast was and I have always said,” what Palm Coast wants, Palm Coast gets”. Been trying to keep them on the “other side” of the bridge but they are still trying to come across. Since FB has some 18 police officers obviously not doing much in the way of fighting crime these days, maybe Palm Coast would take them off our payroll, so we can get our taxes under control while FB commissioners are thinking up new studies to spend our money on! FB citizens need to jump on this bandwagon NOW!

  7. Mr. Knowitall says:

    Thank you

    Melissa “the grinch who stole 4th of July” Holland

    You are a discrace to the citizens of Flagler County

  8. mara says:

    This is starting to smell a whole lot more about “saving 30 grand” than “posing a burn hazard”, particularly when the Fire Chief initially said he didn’t see a problem with Flagler Beach’s fireworks still going on as planned.

    All the rain we’ve gotten since June 20th is so good to see for *so many* reasons. Too bad it’s not going to wash the crap off the faces of everyone involved in this fiasco of a decision. Everyone lost. Everyone–the fireworks company, the citizens of Flagler Beach, the Hammock, AND Palm Coast, the local businesses and the councils for the cities and the county.

    Cancel the shows inland? Of course–but the beach show is ON. THE. BEACH. next to a WHOLE. LOT. OF. WATER.


  9. mara says:

    And you know, I have to wonder about the drop-dead date set by the fireworks vendor–was it really “too late”? Is this gentleman trying to help the commissioners save face so he gets the Labor Day contract? I hope not. They don’t deserve it.

    This is all seriously bogus and I am beyond disappointed, but I implore you all once again to stop, step back, and stop pointing fingers and yelling back and forth at “vague faceless People On The Other Side of The Bridge” as the culprit. The only–the ONLY–problem here is a serious level of Stupid on our County Commission.

  10. Dee says:

    We will miss fireworks at Palm Coast Beach this year, we normally try to make it down there.

  11. Willy says:

    As a lifelong resident of the county I can tell you what I will still be doing this 4th of July weekend.

    I will be at the beach.

    Not at Town Center.

    Not at Hammock Dunes…

    Fireworks or not, I will be at the beach. Come out regardless of the Fireworks, bring the kids, and show your support for the Original 4th of July celebration.

  12. donna says:

    This was a county decision. Flagler Beach is a part of Flagler County. At the time the decision was made, I believe it was made for the safety of the entire county.

    All one has to do is see how overworked and tired fire and emergency personel are. They have done a surperb job in containing the numerous fires. Although much rain has fallen since the decision was made, much lightening has also come. Fires from lightening do not always show themselves until many, many days after their strikes.

    I do not know what the competition is between Flagler Beach and Palm Coast is. The bottom line is Flagler Beach is part of Flagler County and thus adhere to the same decisions.

    To me, fireworks are a danger to the county and a burden to emergency and fire crews at this time. I am looking foward to when the fireworks will be able to go off safely without stressing the county’s resources on our fire crews and their families. They have been through enough.

  13. 91 LX says:

    I understand not setting off fireworks in Town Center. But Flagler Beach??? Really??? I am so disappointed. I was so looking forward to sitting on my porch watching the fireworks on the 4th. Guess I’m going to have to deal with it tho, and wait a few more months. The bright side is that there is still a lot to do this weekend in Flagler Beach. I’ll be at first Friday, I’ll be at the the beach and I’ll be there for the parade. I love living in Flagler Beach. I just don’t love some of the BS that goes on in the town.

  14. hahahaha says:

    Anybody want to start a petition to start a new county called “Flagler Beach County?” I bet it would be interresting to take all the tax money from the river, east away from the county and palm coast. talk about a going out of business sale!

  15. jason says:

    Donna , Ok so lets think how long these firework shows last 20 minutes? So for 20 – 30 minutes which gives the fireworks 10 extra minutes of “being dangerous” to the county, the firefighters are going to be burdened and their families ? What the #@!# is wrong with you ? You act like the firefighters are standing next to the fireworks in the blazing sun, all suited up with their hoses in hand ? They don’t do that donna its really not a burden on them or their families which are usually at the shows with them? Fireworks are the ONLY FREE THING TAX PAYER GET stop messing with the only free thing left in this country please !!!

  16. donna says:

    Jason, I am so sorry I upset you. No need to curse at me, unless it makes you feel more like a man. . I was mearly stating what I have seen in the past couple of months and the stress on these firefighters. I was there almost everyday and sometimes twice a day making sure they had what they needed.

    Do you really think fireworks are free? Ok, I’ll let you believe that. Enjoy them and have a happy and safe 4th.

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