was that this Independence Day would hold more meaning in the wake of
Sept. 11 and draw a larger crowd wanting to take part in patriotic
The board claims that fireworks at the beach would attract more
families and not have unruly revelers causing mischief Downtown.
Fireworks haven't been at the beach since the 1970s.
But Huntington Beach Police and Fire Departments are concerned with
parking and traffic jams caused by the influx of people to Downtown. They
said emergency response may be hampered if they have to get to an
"There could be tens of thousands of people down there with the
potential of lots of people getting hurt," said Police Chief Ron
Lowenberg. "We might lose all positive ground we've gained in the past
The Fourth of July used to be the busiest day of the year for police,
who added extra staff in the 1990s to quell crowds that gathered on
Downtown streets. In some years rioters burned couches in city streets
and threw bottles and firecrackers at police. Police arrested as many as
600 people on past Independence days.
Police told City Council that an additional $60,000 would need to be
added to their budget to pay for the increased staff at the beach if the
fireworks were moved.
Ron Hagan, director of community services for the city, told council
that the cost of moving the fireworks to the beach would be an increase
of $100,000 from the current fireworks display.
So with safety and financial concerns cited as their reasons, City
Council rejected the idea of shooting fireworks off barges to the north
and south of the pier.
Council may revisit an idea posed by Hagan, that a possible return to
the beach may be planned for 2004, the 100th anniversary of the first
Fourth of July Celebration in Huntington Beach.