Budget tightening affects Peninsula Fourth of July fireworks 

Bombs bursting in air cost quite a lot of money, it turns out.

Foster City and Half Moon Bay have managed to keep their fireworks shows alive this year, but Redwood City was not so fortunate.

Foster City’s display will last 15 to 20 minutes, with rockets exploding over the lagoon in Leo Ryan Park. The city’s show will cost $17,500 and is being paid for through sponsorship and money raised from paid parking, a new feature of this year’s event, parks Director Kevin Miller said.

But the show might not happen next year unless the city brings in enough revenue to cover this year’s show, Miller said.

This year’s largest sponsor only donated a couple thousands dollars, and tens of thousands of additional dollars will go out for public safety and event organizing. Still, Miller said, it’s money well spent.

“It’s not just, ‘Boy, you shot a bunch of fireworks in the sky,’” he said. “There’s a social and an economic value to it.”

Meanwhile, Half Moon Bay will put on its biggest display ever, after suspending the event last year due to financial troubles. The Pillar Point Harbor display will last 20 to 22 minutes and sync up to music that will play on 89.3 FM. Pryo Spectacular, a national group that also stages San Francisco’s show, will put on the $22,500 event.

The American Legion raised money for the show through donations from local businesses, most notably Sam’s Chowder House and the Half Moon Bay Brewing Co., Legion member Harry Ysselstein said. The event, which involves shutting down state Highway 1, will cost $50,000 in all, Ysselstein said.

This is the second year in a row Redwood City will not put on a show.

“It’s a financial issue,” said Donna Badella, coordinator of the festival for the Peninsula Celebration Association, a volunteer group that has handled the city’s Fourth of July events for 73 years. “Redwood City does not pay.”

Badella said that in 2009, the show cost $60,000 and lasted 15 to 20 minutes.

“We would love to have a big corporation come forward to pay for the fireworks,” she said.

San Bruno and Pacifica are the only cities in San Mateo County that allow people to sell and set off their own fireworks. That policy recently generated controversy in San Bruno, where many residents are still shellshocked by September’s natural-gas pipeline blast and subsequent fire.  

But because city voters passed a ballot measure in 2005 allowing “safe and sane” fireworks to be purchased and used, banning fireworks would require voter approval. City Manager Connie Jackson has promised that police will “assign special attention and enforcement” to the neighborhood.


Where to watch

  • Fireworks events in San Francisco and on the Peninsula starting at sundown Monday:
  • Foster City at Leo Ryan Park
  • Half Moon Bay at Pillar Point Harbor
  • Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, starring the San Francisco Symphony
  • Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 in San Francisco
  • East Palo Alto held its first-ever show Saturday at Cesar Chavez School

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Niko Kyriakou

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