Fireworks campaign succeeds in lighting up July 4th

La Jolla’s annual Fourth of July Cove fireworks display has been saved.

A last-minute Internet drive has raised the $27,000 needed to resurrect the event canceled two weeks ago because of the recession and rising permitting and other costs.

“Fireworks must go on and will,” said La Jolla business consultant Adam Harris, who spearheaded the 11th hour Internet campaign, with networking assistance from Deborah Marengo, to raise the funds necessary to stage the signature community event. “We don’t have a final accounting but we met our goal - exceeded it.”

Asked whether the fireworks display is a “go” for Independence Day, La Jolla restaurateur George Hauer, who has co-hosted the event for 24 years with the cooperation of First Republic Bank, said, “It is.”

Hauer, however, cautioned that there’s a lot of leg work left to be done to prepare for the event which is just a little over three weeks away.

“There are a lot of details-- fending, $1,000 signs for street closing, hiring a security company, getting insurance coverage, etc. -- that go along with this,” he said. “And you have to have the right (nonprofit) entity to receive the money. There’s a lot to do, but we’re going to get it done.”

Hauer credited Marengo’s public relations expertise in fundraising. “She raised over $20,000,” he said. “Adam ws the guy who started it, but Deborah was the one going out into the community. Without what she did we wouldn’t have fireworks.”

On Friday, Harris set up the Web site,

, to spread the word and seek donations.

Harris said more than 50 individual contributions to the fund.

“There’s been a lot of local businesses contributing and multifamily donations as well as anonymous donors,” he said. “We want to maximize donations as much as possible so that we can perpetuate a fund.”

Harris started the drive to save La Jolla’s fireworks display because he was saddened to lose an event that had been part of his youth.

“I’m flabbergasted,” said Hauer on Monday before the drive reached its goal. “This guy (Harris) is a bloody hero.”

Hauer said he had talked with city officials and the fireworks company telling them to be ready to go should the community fundraising drive succeed.

Hauer announced May 29 the recession and rising permit costs and city fees were forcing him to take a “hiatus” from hosting Independence Day fireworks this year.

Deborah Marengo, who helped Harris network his fundraising drive, said it’s been great to see the community come together to “raise this kind of money so quickly.”

Marengo was surprised at the number of people who weren’t aware the community event had been canceled.

“It could have been an unfortunate day,” she said. “We’re very grateful for those who contributed that could.”

She added this drive is the beginning of something new.

“This is not a one-time situation,” she said. “We need to sit down with a group of people and establish Save The La Jolla Fireworks as a nonprofit and continue the fundraising every year.”

Contributions are being handled through the local nonprofit group, the La Jolla Community Foundation (a partner of The San Diego Foundation), whose mission is to preserve and enhance La Jolla for future generations. Hauer is a member of the foundation board as is Light publisher Phyllis Pfeiffer.