David Mendez

Redondo Beach’s July 1 fireworks offer delight, confusion

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Sue and John Hicks, in red and blue, take in the Redondo Beach Fireworks Celebration finale. Photo by David Mendez

by David Mendez

Redondo Beach’s first – and likely only – attempt at a July 1 fireworks celebration was a mixed bag both for the city and for residents.

While onlookers saw a spectacular show in the city’s third year running the fireworks program, attendance was down, both in paid attendance at Seaside Lagoon and among the casual crowd that watches from Czuleger Park.

According to Community Services Director John La Rock, Redondo Beach sold 556 tickets to Seaside Lagoon for the city’s official party. That’s down by approximately 66 percent from previous years, when the city has sold between 1650 and 1800 tickets.

Named as one of the city’s signature events, the fireworks display is budgeted at $55,000. The city attempts to make that money back through ticket sales and parking revenues, though preliminary estimates indicate that the city will not recoup its expenses.

The switch from traditional July 4 fireworks to July 1 was unexpectedly complicated for Redondo’s elected officials, who issued multiple mea culpas through social media. As Mayor Bill Brand said at a recent Redondo Beach City Council meeting, he’s not going to support another shift away from July 4.

However, the city’s attempts to prevent confusion for the fireworks (as with banners and lighted street signs throughout the city) didn’t catch everyone’s attention. While nearby shopping plazas hired extra security to vet parking shoppers and ensure they didn’t leave their spaces for the fireworks show, one business was left hanging: the McDonald’s restaurant across from Redondo Beach City Hall.

Three flustered staff members – apparently the usual crew for a Sunday night – struggled to keep up with demand, until they learned that fireworks were due to be set off that night, in less than an hour.

“The fireworks are at 9?” one staffer asked before lamenting that they’d be down to two employees by that time, and scrambled to find more.

Crowds were also diminished at nearby Czuleger Park, though those in attendance were as enthusiastic as ever.

John and Sue Hicks, new Redondo who residents recently removed from Washington DC, took in the show from the deck above the International Boardwalk.

“We got a kick out of it,” Sue Hicks said. “In DC, we were never able to get this close.”

“The fireworks were the best I’ve seen in years — probably the best I’ve ever seen, and the ending was fabulous,” John Hicks said.

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