See a follow-up to this article correcting or clarifying several statements by officials below, “Flagler Beach Could Have Had Its July 4 Fireworks Had It Not Waited Until April 24 to Book the Show.”
There may not be any July 4 fireworks in Flagler Beach this year.
Not because Palm Coast will have them, or because Flagler Beach doesn’t want them, but because Fireworks by Santore, the Palm Coast-based manufacturer that’s produced Independence Day fireworks for decades told the city it’s too short-staffed to make it there on July 4. ” I spoke with Sanatory Fireworks and this is a staffing issue,” Flagler Beach Mayor Suzie Johnston said.” This is a budget issue. They are turning down jobs of $50,000. So basically until we have an investment up into $100,000 we would not have fireworks on the Fourth of July, it’s the same amount of labor, and so their profit is cut doing smaller jobs.”
It could produce the show on July 2 for $25,000. But the city commission late Thursday night voted against that option.
“I am not okay with having the parade not on the Fourth of July,” Johnston said. “This city has always had the parade on the Fourth of July and is what has kicked off the festivities for the day. And I would not like to see the rest of the events happening on the 2nd. That goes against what we have done as tradition in the city.” She added: “There’s issues with the fireworks but there’s not issues with having the parade on the Fourth of July and having the events in the park.”
The city is not entirely without options for fireworks on the 4th. Santore, regretful that it’s unable to do the show on the 4th, recommended another pyrotechnics vendor to City Manger William Whitson. It’s “another smaller provider that wasn’t quite as busy and booked up that may be able to do this on the fourth,” Whitson said, “I’ve been in conversations with the new provider, Imperial fireworks. And I’m waiting for the final answer. But there’s a shot, there’s a chance that we can have Fourth of July fireworks on the Fourth.” The provider told Whitson “it was 50-50 and let him do some more homework ,and that’s the last I heard.”
Imperial Pyro and Special Effects is a very small company founded by Jack Lambert in 2018 and operating out of Florida and Virginia.
“The problem is this gentleman has known about this since Friday,” Police Chief Matt Doughney said of Lambert. “He hasn’t been vetted. I don’t know if he’s licensed through ATF. He’s talking about doing a 10 minute show with smaller shells. This town about went crazy a couple years ago when we had a 14 minute show.” He said his department could not handle a split holiday burdening his troops–First Friday on the 1st, with the Navy Band, fireworks on July 2, then the parade and other July 4 events on Monday. “You have to have it all in one day, you can’t split the two events,” Doughney warned the commission–other than leaving First Friday on that day.
Lambert in an interview on Friday said he’d spoken with Whitson and Pace, and that he was hoping to have a decision soon, his intention being to produce a show that “my company will be proud of and something your community will be proud of.” That means a 20-minute show, he said, being aware of the reaction to a shorter show in the past.
The commission voted 5-0 to reject July 2 fireworks and assume the risk that it could end up with no fireworks at all on the 4th if Imperial Fireworks doesn’t come through. Whitson assured the commission: Lambert “is licensed. He is certified. I just don’t know if he can do our show on the fourth. That’s what I’m waiting to hear,” the city manager said.
Whitson said Santore is pulling out because of staffing issues. But there are other issues: the cost of fireworks has skyrocketed, and the overwhelming majority of fireworks materials originate from China, where supply problems have been endemic.
[Note: an earlier version of this article incorrectly placed Fireworks by Santore’s headquarters in west Flagler. The Santore operation split in 2011, with Santore & Sons operating at the west Flagler location, and producing a type of fireworks called “close proximity pyrotechnics,” different than those produced for such things as the July 4 show. Fireworks by Santore, which does produce those shows, opened offices on Hargrove Grade in Palm Coast. Flagler Beach has been partnering with Fireworks by Santore for its shows.]
“I’m still agreeing with the mayor, I think we need to have everything on the Fourth,” Commissioner Jane Mealy said. “We had a whole long fight several months ago about Palm Coast wants to change from the 3rd to the 4th, we would do it all through the years. We went through this old blah blah blah. And we were damant that July 4 belongs in Flagler Beach.” Mealy was referring to the weeks-long controversy in January and February, when Palm Coast City Council members pressed to have fireworks on July 4 in Palm Coast, instead of on July 3, as has been the case since 2011. The push-back from Flagler Beach was quick and sharp, with near-unanimity on the Flagler Beach City Commission against changing tradition.
“I know we didn’t know that Santore was going to create this problem. But if there’s an alternative I think we need to go on the Fourth with everything.”
Commissioner Eric Cooley noted that the commission-appointed July 4 committee that wrapped up its work in January had been clear with its recommendations: fireworks, yes, but only in conjunction with stepped up policing. But the usual help from neighboring law enforcement agencies won;t be the same. Doughney says Daytona police, one of the usual helpers, “is down 30 cops,” and will not be helping this year. “It sounds like that everything can be done on the Fourth except the fireworks, is almost like we’ve come full circle,” Cooley said. Cooley last year proposed scrapping July 4 fireworks altogether because the city is being overrun on that day, he argued.
So Cooley proposed scrapping the July fireworks altogether this year. That proposal did not quite carry. But the mayor raised another issue: what about coming years, if the same dilemma arises? “We’re just putting ourselves into a position to never celebrate the Fourth of July on the Fourth of July going forward,” Johnston said. She doesn’t want to see that happen. July 4 festivities must be on July 4 in Flagler Beach, she said, come what may–with or without fireworks. “It’s called the fourth not the second of July. And that’s what all of our residents kept saying. And it’s not about the fireworks. It’s about the celebration in the community and all of the things that the day encompasses.” Cooley last year had proposed shifting the fireworks tradition to New Year’s Eve. He tried again Thursday evening, but other commissioners preferred delaying those moves.
The city is bracing for a public relations challenge. City Commission Chairman Ken Bryan said messaging has to let people know that “we’re having a problem. You know, heaven has not been good to us,” he said.
To Cooley, “this is something that county is allowing to be dumped on us because they don’t do one of their own, when they could, and they have the ability to,” he said of fireworks.
I don’t think Santore created this problem. Santore is not responsible for the sky rocketing cost of materials nor are they at fault for staffing shortages.
So if Santore can’t serve the community they work in Can they abide by the Noise ordinance then. No special treatment for businesses.
There is no noise ordinance in the county yet, though there may soon be one.
Can you elaborate on this “noise” you are inferring “they” are creating?
Hey Sam, please explain what you mean by serve the community they work in? Flagler County does three shows a year. They just don’t award shows to companies that live in their community. So if you are hearing noise, you are hearing fireworks bought from multi million dollar companies setting off dangerous goods and potentially putting their community neighbors at risk. Just because a company puts up shop in Flagler County does not make them responsible for doing said fireworks. No company can stay afloat with 3 shows in July each year.
Too Crowded to care says
I decided pre Covid not to attend the fireworks at Flagler Pier anymore, an annual tradition for my family, the day just became grueling with the traffic. The busses they tried years ago didn’t pan out as they could not maintain a high occupancy lane for the buses and they had to wait just as long as individuals in cars in parking lot traffic, stranding hundreds at veterans Memorial park with no way to get back to their cars with chairs coolers and blankets save for walking over the RT. 100 bridge, a total disaster, as not a portapotty on site and you can’t expect families to wait hours at night with tired families with no facilities. After that fiasco following year we drove to beach 9am in the morning just to get a spot a mile from Pier, waited all day for one of the shortest and low quality fireworks displays Ive ever seen, a total disappointment with then unbelievable traffic bumper to bumper all the way North to get up A1A to Palm Coast Parkway bridge. So not worth it for 15-20 minutes of mediocre fireworks. I thought the “grand finale” was just them getting started, but nope, that was it, Most Anti-Clamatic.
Probably best considering the pandemic starting to come back and everyone should be home and wear masks. Also why don’t they just switch to drone show instead? I feel palm coast is paying Santoro to keep Flagler beach from having its event.
S. Peters says
I find it amusing that so many Flagler residents enjoy July 4th festivities, fly their American Flags, enjoy fireworks which all remind some of us that we are celebrating INDEPENDENCE DAY. Yet the very fascist, authoritarian leaders here at home and in D.C. are extreme right wing factions that want to do exactly the opposite of INDEPENDENCE. DeSantis wants his own police force, wants to put severe laws in place and take away our freedom of speech. The hypocrisy is amazing.
I bet you fly your RAINBOW Flag on July 4th because your a Patriot ! If I was you, I would take a LONG vacation around November of this year. You may want to move to a more peaceful state like….. CHICAGO .
Another geography major; Chicago is a city in Illinois. It is not a state.
S. Peters says
Sorry, no I do not have a rainbow flag. No intention of being anywhere but right here on election day.
So that’s what happened in the Election you lost. Threats and just wait til next time next time next week is all we get from you people. You are all a bunch of Cowards Bring it I got something for you.
@S.Peters… Here, I fixed if for you.
I find it amusing that so many Flagler residents enjoy July 4th festivities, fly their American Flags, enjoy fireworks which all remind some of us that we are celebrating INDEPENDENCE DAY. Yet the very fascist, authoritarian leaders here at home and in D.C. are extreme left AND Right wing factions that want to do exactly the opposite of INDEPENDENCE. DeSantis was a much better choice then the opposing candidate and has done a great job for Florida throughout his term. The hypocrisy is amazing.
S. Peters says
I didn’t need you to ‘fix’ my post sir. There’s a book by Robert O. Paxton called ‘The Anatomy of Fascism’. Interesting reading and in particular, a paragraph on page 218. “What is Fascism?” “Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.” What DeSantis is doing IS Fascist behavior in my opinion. I certainly do not want to live in a fascist society, being told what I can and cannot read, what I can and cannot say. If you cannot see the writing on the wall of what the Republican Party has turned into then I feel sorry for you and others like you. I haven’t seen anything that DeSantis has done for me personally. If, God forbid, he becomes president in 2024, this country will be controlled by a Fascist regime and Oligarchs. Just like Russia, North Korea, China… No thanks.
DeSantis isn’t China. Sounds to me like you’re a typical Liberal, you believe everything you read written by a fellow Liberal.
S. Peters says
Yes I’m a proud liberal. Here’s what I researched about the author I quoted. And yes, I research things dear. Robert O. Paxton
Bornin Lexington, Virginia, The United StatesJune 15, 1932
GenrePolitical Science, Modern History
Robert Owen Paxton is an American political scientist and historian specializing in Vichy France, fascism, and Europe during the World War II era. After attending secondary school in New England, he received a B.A. from Washington and Lee University in 1954. Later, he won a Rhodes Scholarship and spent two years earning an M.A. at Merton College, Oxford, where he studied under historians including James Joll and John Roberts. He earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1963. Paxton taught at the University of California, Berkeley and the State University of New York at Stony Brook before joining the faculty of Columbia University in 1969. He served there for the remainder of his career, retiring in 1997. He remains a professor emeritus. He has contributed more than twenty reviews to The New York Review of Books, beginning in 1978 and continuing through 2017.
Still believing in the Big Lie or Steal aren’t you Shelly.
“Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”
Lets go through some of these one by one shall we?
obsessive preoccupation of community decline – have you seen what is happening in Oregon,San Fran, Baltimore and other Blue cities and states?
Humiliation or victim hood – who is pushing CRT? I could go on here, but you get.
You get the picture. I need not continue. If you cannot see that the extreme right and lefts of both parties are lunatics, and those that believe only their party is right are idiots there is no hope for you. Bring back the parties of old. Just don’t go back too far with the DEMs as you bring back the KKK. And do not go back to far with the Repubs as you bring back war mongers.
So please explain, if you can, the great job DeSantis did in that unconstitutional legislation he initiated against Disney. Before you get your panties in a twist, please remember that the State of Florida prohibits the dissolution of a special district such as Reedy Creek until all its debts and bonds have been satisfied. Last count that debt was just over $1 billion. Then there is the tax deficit the area with incur when Disney stops paying its special assessment tax to Reedy Creek which no longer exists – a potential shortfall of $165 million per year. As an Orange County taxpayer I would not be too excited to have that additional tax burden placed on my bill. Thank you Ronnie.
That whole thing was just another DeSantis political stunt to gain favor with his marginally knowledgeable base.
S. Peters says
Denali, thank you. It’s encouraging to know there are still some that have the insight to see what is happening before our very eyes.
If what you say is true “the State of Florida prohibits the dissolution of a special district such as Reedy Creek until all its debts and bonds have been satisfied. ” how did he do it? Please explain. He just can’t go against the law. Maybe there is more to this than you think you know…..
By the way, how is the Florida economy doing all through the pandemic in comparison to other states in particular any blue states. On behalf of our governor. You are welcome.
70000 dead and many more sick or gravely ill Gee Thx DUHSantis
Amen to what you said S,Peters. I’m beginning to find the great and popular partiotic 4th of July music somewhat hypocritical because of the way everything is.
S. Peters says
Thank you Tulip. I feel the same way. It saddens me to see such hypocrisy in this time of my life. To see how utterly fragile our Democracy is while we take it for granted. Look at Ukraine. Those people lived in a democracy and thousands have been killed and millions had to flee. How sad is that? The fragility of our democracy is real and I cringe just seeing the American Flag flying along side Trump flags. He and his kind are what this country stood up against that gave us Independence Day. I have the benefit of my son as a History and Humanities Professor and am surrounded by his books. When I have questions, he gives me answers, he gives me truth and texts that are proof of what the History of the world really is. I’m grateful to have learned more about the process of researching facts.
Make the FB Bridge a toll (except for locals) and use all the money collected over the year to fund the fireworks and other costs ( police, parking, buses…). Problem solved.
Uh, that is a state road. The bridge was paid for and is maintained with dollars from all Florida residents. Flagler Beach does not own the bridge. Lord I wish people would learn a little bit about how things work before they enlighten us with their worthless suggestions.
Trump told him he could do it so it must be true.
$100,000? Well I guess the only customer is going to be the Speedway for them. Maybe advertise and you could find some help?
They have mark. As with many other companies there is a shortage on labor, fireworks being a specialized industry that requires critical background checks and safety precautions not every one is a candidate. I respect their decision as I’m sure it was done out of the abundance of safety.
Gary De Lia says
For the record, Ralph Santore & Sons has nothing to do with the Flagler Beach fireworks nor with the firm that does the display. They are strictly manufacturers of close proximity pyrotechnics products much smaller than the fireworks used at the beach. The company referred to in the article is Fireworks By Santore, based in Palm Coast. I’m now retired from FBS, but having worked with them for years I know that the Beach show was never a moneymaker for us and if anything, we were lucky to break even. We always produced the displays in the spirit of community pride, never profit.
Most civilized societies around the world are replacing loud dangerous fireworks with drones.
Drones are just as exciting as a laser light show. You might as well watch fireworks show re-runs on the cable channels.