La Jolla fireworks to return for Fourth of July? ‘It’s going to happen this year,’ organizers say

Fireworks explode over La Jolla Cove during a past Independence Day celebration.

If the state continues on its path to end the tier system of COVID-19-related restrictions and fully reopen June 15, La Jolla will be ready to celebrate in a big way — with the return of its beloved Fourth of July fireworks display over The Cove.

“It’s going to happen this year,” said Deborah Marengo, director of the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation. “Our fundraising committee has been meeting for the last few months in anticipation of our permit being approved, and the fire marshal indicated the permit would be approved for this year.”

At the La Jolla Village Merchants Association’s April 14 meeting, Executive Director Jodi Rudick read a letter from the San Diego Special Events & Filming Department indicating that, provided rates of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and vaccinations continue positive trends, the show could take place.

“The county is requesting official confirmation from the state,” Rudick read. “However, the county’s interpretation of the recent changes is that fireworks will be permissible after June 15.”

Marengo said donations coming in quickly is of the essence. “Anyone that wants to contribute can do so; all contributions will go to good use,” she said.

Marengo said the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation works with the La Jolla Town Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, as a fiscal partner for tax-deductible contributions.

In the past, the event cost about $65,000. Marengo said she is reaching out to vendors, some of whom have raised their rates. “We’re looking to raise about $100,000 to fund this year’s show and be able to make a down payment in January 2022 for next year’s show,” Marengo said. Approximately half of that has been committed but not collected.

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The planning committee had been working to revive the fireworks display — which was canceled in 2018 and ’19 due to lack of funding — since before the start of the pandemic.

“We all thought it wouldn’t last as long as it has,” Marengo said. “When we realized we couldn’t have it [in summer 2020], we thought about maybe having it for New Year’s Eve, and it got delayed again. Now that restrictions are getting eased up and restaurants should be operating, we’re looking forward to doing this again.

“I feel it’s something the community needs. It’s been a tough year for all the merchants. My office is on Girard Avenue and for the last year I’ve been looking down and seeing no cars on the street and no people walking around. So to see the hotels full again and more life in The Village is a good thing. We’re ready for having tourists and locals back in The Village.”

The annual fireworks show was launched in 1985 by restaurateur George Hauer, owner of George’s at the Cove, who financed it himself for more than 20 years. The Community Fireworks Foundation took over in 2010.

The Village Merchants Association was approached to be a fiscal partner this year, given that it is establishing a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arm. Rudick said paperwork had been submitted to the state but had not yet been approved; therefore it wouldn’t be reasonable for the organization to collect donations for this year’s fireworks. When the nonprofit branch is established, the board expects to take a more active role in fundraising for the event.

At the April 14 meeting, LJVMA President Cody Decker said he still wants the board to be involved. “A lot of great people are trying to bring this back and make this happen. With what the world has gone through, it’s something people are passionate about right now.”

Given that the board will be a fiscal partner going forward, LJVMA members wanted to have an event in conjunction with the fireworks and formed a committee to get the ball rolling.

Additional details are forthcoming and likely will be presented at a future LJVMA meeting. Learn more at ◆