Long Beach City Hall and the Sea Festival Association deserve star-spangled applause for their plan to return Fourth of July fireworks to downtown. A clash between the city and Queen Mary over public-safety and event fees snuffed the 2005 show, earning red glares from residents and downtown businesses eager for holiday revenue.
The new plan, devised by the city parks department and the non-profit Sea Fest, will relocate the event from the Queen Mary to the Rainbow Lagoon and Marina Green area. Revelers are expected to watch from a fenced-in area as part of a related Sea Fest carnival.
Last year's event was derailed by a $70,000 public safety tab the city expected the Queen Mary to pay. The City Council has allocated $120,000 for this year's event.
In addition, Sea Fest organizers plan to collect a small admission fee at the Marina Green site for non-Long Beach residents to offset some of the cost, but that fee is still being determined. The idea, said David Ashman, the city's special events manager, was to serve all Long Beach residents who want to enter the event area for free.
The year-long hiatus (the Veterans Stadium fireworks event took place in 2005 and will again this year) appears to have been worthwhile. We favor hosting revelers in a contained area, with police supervision, and the city has provided appropriate funding.
The plan wisely funnels guests into downtown, where they can access businesses and transportation, rather than residential Bluff Park and Alamitos Beach. Anyone who wants to watch from the bluff and beach still can, but the city's plan certainly encourages downtown viewing.
While Long Beach and the Queen Mary remain in a dispute over rent credits, moving the event from the QM was the right decision for residents since those tensions may heat up again. Canceling the show shortly before the event last year was a disservice to all.
Promoters plan to use bigger fireworks shells for a display similar to the one Cerritos put on recently for its anniversary celebration. This new program appears to improve on the past while still providing the blast.