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Feature Stories

Queen Mary July 4th Fireworks Disappoint

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 14

By Kirt Ramirez

The Queen Mary Fourth of July fireworks show left many onlookers feeling let down.

Thousands of people gathered at the beach July 4 – some arriving in the morning to get a good spot – to celebrate America’s 237th Birthday. Families and friends had food and fun and made a day of it, expecting the fireworks later on.

Crowds also packed the bluff to view the evening’s explosive display. House parties at a number of the historic mansions lining Ocean Boulevard facilitated spectators – many on balconies waiting for the big moment.

But the night’s climax apparently was a great fizzle.
“It was ridiculous. It was a disappointment,” said Long Beach resident Donald Armstrong. “They should be ashamed because it was Independence Day.”

He said the show ended shortly after it began and crowds started leaving thinking it was over. As Armstrong walked up a street to go home, all of a sudden he heard what must have been the “grand finale.” He missed it along with others.

“They really messed up,” he said. “We were sitting there all day, everybody was out watching it. That wasn’t even worth coming down to see.”

Jo Bracken, who lives in one of the elegant estates on Ocean, looks out at the show every year. “It was very boring, she lamented. “I kept waiting for them to do something spectacular and it didn’t happen.”

She added, “I don’t think there was a grand finale. And if there was, everybody missed it.”

Long Beach visitor Amr Latif said, “It was quicker than I ever expected and disappointing too.”

But an older gentleman homeowner of an attractive brick house on Ocean said the show was short, but that’s okay. “It’s a waste of somebody’s money,” he said.

A reporter who looked forward to the 9 o’clock show rode his bike to the shoreline but arrived about 10 minutes late. He never saw one Queen Mary firework.

What happened?

Steve Sheldon, director of events for the Queen Mary, said the show was 12 minutes long – same as last year – but that for the past two years the Queen Mary has been supporting its own firework shows due to the City of Long Beach withdrawing its financial support.

The city no longer helps due to budget cuts, he said. Sheldon said the Queen Mary would like to have a longer show with more fireworks but it’s not possible due to funding. “Unfortunately the cost increases by the minute. It’s an expensive and difficult thing to do.”

However, Sheldon added that from the viewpoint of the ship, the show looked pretty good. He said Mayor Foster and others were aboard and they all enjoyed the show. Additionally, Sheldon added, “It’s really meant to be a show for guests aboard the Queen Mary.”

Sheldon said there is talk within the Queen Mary of perhaps making next year’s show bigger and better through the help of corporate and civic partners and private donations from the community. “It is being discussed.”

Tom Modica, Long Beach director of government affairs and strategic initiatives, said there were a number of firework shows in Long Beach but none were put on by the city and that the Queen Mary show was put on by the Queen Mary. “We don’t currently fund any firework shows,” he said.

Asked if the city could fund one of its own, Modica said he could not comment.

Some might consider a city-funded, structured show at the end of the pier a good idea. That location would serve a lot of people and be closer to the beach public.

Meanwhile, after the Queen Mary show ended, the Huntington Beach and San Pedro shows could be seen continuing. Huntington Beach let off 1,300 rounds of fireworks – 500 of them during the finale in the last 40 seconds of the 23-minute spectacle, according to the show’s website.

Long Beach’s Alamitos Bay display July 3 got good reviews. “The firework show at Alamitos Bay was phenomenal and the accompanying music made the whole show sparkle,” said Long Beach resident Diana Lejins.

[Editor’s Note: Ms. Lejins took the photo on page one of this issue.]
In the past, Veterans Stadium put on a fabulous show but this year’s was canceled again.

In the meantime, the Queen Mary July 4 fireworks show can be viewed on YouTube. Roughly 200 regular-sized fireworks – the big ones that blow up high in the sky – were counted, with some bigger than others.

However a mini-firework display of fountain-style, assorted firecrackers – exploding near the surface, not high in the sky – went off at the same time in a low-level side show. This bright show of lots of small fireworks ran for the 12 minutes and took over for the grand finale, which is probably why the public ashore had trouble seeing it.