The Flagler Beach City Commission this evening approved a a $35,000 New Year’s Eve plan to launch midnight fireworks from the pier, ending a four and a half year fireworks drought in the city. The vote, and the enthusiasm, was unanimous.
“Just make it happen,” Commissioner Jane Mealy told City Manager Dale Martin.
“Don’t drop the ball,” Commissioner Rick Belhumeur said in a pun wrapped in a wry allusion to the city’s unhappy streak of snuffed out fireworks in the last several years.
The special meeting this evening was to approve an extra $10,000 added to $25,000 the city had already appropriated for fireworks as part of its budget. The extra $10,000 is drawn from the city’s reserves. (See: “Flagler Beach Planning New Year’s Fireworks and ‘Surf Board Drop’ in What Could Be Launch of New Tradition.”)
The event will be paired with pre-fireworks “low-key” entertainment in Veterans Park, in the city commission chairman’s words. The commission will be asking Vern Shank, who manages the city’s First Friday events, to coordinate that portion of the night, if he is available. If not, the city will seek out another coordinator.
The event will lead up to a surfboard drop, replicating the big ball drop in Times Square. The plan is to drop the lighted, oversized surfboard with a countdown to midnight, from the ladder of a city fire truck.
The launch will take place from the more solid portion of the condemned pier. That will require the Funky Pelican restaurant to close and that building be evacuated by 10 p.m., Martin told the commission. A portion of the boardwalk on either side of the pier, along with a portion of beach, will be closed off, but A1A is not expected to close to traffic. The fireworks show will last 12 minutes. The show will feature 4-inch shells.
Commissioner Scott Spradley raised the question of timing: should the fireworks go off at midnight, or earlier? The rest of the commission was strongly in favor of launching at midnight. “I only know of one time to do a New Year’s Eve, and that’s at New Year’s Eve,” Commission Chairman Eric Cooley said of the midnight hour. “New Year’s Eve has not ever been designed to be a kid friendly or holiday and event.” The target audience, he said, is adults.
As for fireworks, Spradley said, “I have talked to a pretty wide sampling of residents, business owners, and about the concept of fireworks on New Year’s Eve, and it has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s hard to come across someone who doesn’t favor that. And I’m not talking about social media, which by the way, social media is even positive.”
There were five people in the audience, including a reporter and Spradley’s daughter, Alyson Spradley, in town for pre-Thanksgiving from Florida’s west coast. She addressed the commission (after some insistent ribbing by the chairman), suggesting some research into other municipalities’ efforts with such events to entertain children.
The idea was conceived by Martin with help from Cooley. Martin had been surprised that the city did not have a New Year’s Eve event of some sort. It seemed “:out of sorts” with the city’s character, he said, referring to the city as “a festive town” that should have its festive occasions. “I had no idea that you had had this conversation before,” he said, a reference to Cooley’s proposal two years ago to launch New Year’s Eve fireworks, and see if the tradition sticks.
“The city has been starved for fireworks for years now, and let down on a couple of occasions as well, so get them up there,” Rick Belhumeur said.