Organizers of an effort to revive a Fourth of July tradition of enjoying a fireworks display off the coast of Torrance Beach have officially thrown in the towel on making it happen.
Palos Verdes Estates residents Rick and Carri Bender, who started the fundraising campaign three years ago, announced in an email to supporters last week that the effort has proven too costly and logistically too difficult. They agreed to return the money they raised, roughly $72,000 from 77 contributors.
“It’s not a happy announcement to make,” Bender said. “We put in an enormous amount of time and resources. We thought this was something a citizen could pick up and work with, but in the end it just proved too difficult.”
Bender hoped to revive the Torrance Beach fireworks display that had been funded by a private family — the Briles — for 17 years until 2016. But each of the past three years, those efforts fell short.
Times have changed in recent years and Torrance asked the organizers to pay for law enforcement and fire department requirements at a cost of roughly $50,000, fees the city did not charge the Briles family in the past. The actual fireworks was estimated to cost about $68,000, Bender said.
“The fundraising part we thought was going to be the biggest challenge. But the larger task was dealing with the public agency perspectives,” Bender said.
Redondo Beach Councilmember Nils Nehrenheim said the announcement was disappointing to hear because so many local residents enjoyed the fireworks display there, which is shot off a barge amid the cliffs of Palos Verdes Estates.
“It’s sad that Torrance couldn’t help make things happen and that it’s such a busy weekend,” Nehrenheim said. “Redondo is extremely limited in fire and police resources on that day so we can’t have something in the Riviera like we used to.”
Along with the annual fireworks display in King Harbor in Redondo, Torrance hosts a fireworks show from its Civic Center, which also draws most of its police and fire resources to monitor.
The chances of bringing the Torrance Beach fireworks back are not completely over. The Riviera Village Association, made up of local businesses in the district, may reinvigorate their own efforts to raise money.
One possibility, Nehrenheim said, was to move the fireworks show to the weekend before the Fourth of July, during the Riviera Village Summer Festival. But when that was suggested earlier this year, the group’s major backer apparently dropped out, Nehrenheim said.
“I know they tried really hard to have this event and maybe even to move it to a different date,” Nehrenheim said. “If you have it the weekend before or after you would be fine.”