July 4 fireworks, Bird Rock parade ready to roll

La Jollans ensure Independence Day traditions continue another year

Fourth of July festivities

Bird Rock parade: 10 a.m. Beaumont Avenue

Fireworks: 9 p.m. Scripps Park at La Jolla Cove

Russ Murfey was months from being born when his parents, Barbara and Buddy Murfey, along with several other Bird Rock parents, organized the community’s first Fourth of July parade.

As the years passed, Russ was right there alongside his parents and older brother, Scott, to revel in the festive tradition, which today draws thousands to view the fun and outlandish floats progressing down Beaumont Avenue — from an army tanks to a spaceships built in Bird Rock backyards.

Russ said his favorite year was when the parade had a circus theme, and he and his brother were dressed as lions in a cage. “We always decorated our bikes,” he said. “Friends and family would come. It was something you could count on every year.”

This year’s parade down Beaumont Avenue kicks off at 10 a.m. July 4. Bird Rockers and La Jollans may enter floats at 9:15 a.m. that morning at Camino de la Costa and Beaumont Avenue. There is no cost to register, though donations are welcomed and encouraged.

The quintessential “small town” celebration has spanned generations of La Jollans. Now in its 36th year, family is again at the heart of the parade, as Scott and Russ Murfey of Murfey Construction, stepped in to save the event, after learning late in the game that permits had not been filed and planning and fundraising had not begun.

“It came down to a timing issue,” Russ said. “The sands of the clock were almost running out. … We jumped on it, put forth a team and were able to provide the resources to make it happen quickly.”

Russ said the July 4 parade is one of the things that defines Bird Rock as a community. “For us, there is the obvious personal connection to the parade, but more importantly is what it means to the community as a whole,” he said. “There was simply no way we were going to stand by and allow it not to take place.”

This year’s event will include live entertainment, children’s activities and cash prize categories for the best floats, including: $500 for first place (best interpretation of the theme), $300 for second place and $200 for third place.

This year’s theme is the ‘Wild West.”

“Who doesn’t like a western?” Russ enthused. “Loose interpretations are fine, of course.”

Volunteers and donations are still needed. Those interested in supporting the parade can visit to make an online donation.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the feedback we’ve received from the community and how happy people are that the parade is happening this year,” Russ said. “Each day, I’m receiving numerous emails from people telling me how important this parade is to their families, some of whom participated in the first years when my parents started it. It means so much to carry on that legacy for another year and continue to share this special day with my own family.”

For more information, contact Russ Murfey at


For the first time in several years La Jolla’s fireworks show, 9 p.m. sharp at La Jolla Cove in Ellen Browning Scripps Park, is not threatened with legal and environmental challenges. However, raising funds needed to produce the event remains a challenge.

Fortunately, this year La Jolla resident David Marino, of the firm Hughes Marino, has stepped in with a $5,000 donation. He has also pledged $5,000 per year to fund the fireworks as long as he resides in La Jolla (something he has done quietly since 2008, when he first learned the event was threatened with cancellation due to a lack of funds). This year Marino also reached out to others in the community, helping secure $38,000 in commitments toward this year’s event.

“The Fourth of July fireworks are a celebration of our great heritage and culture, and a tradition that needs to be maintained at all costs,” Marino said. “There is just no more beautiful place in the world to witness the celebration of our country’s birth than here at La Jolla Cove. My family is passionate about bringing our friends and relatives to the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club to celebrate July 4, and the fireworks make our evening there one of the greatest joys of the year.”

Marino also secured $5,000 donations from restaurateur George Hauer of George’s at the Cove restaurant (who co-founded La Jolla’s fireworks and bankrolled the event for more than two decades); the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club; La Jolla Cove Suites; Willis Allen residential real estate brokerage; John Barbey, Steve Black, J. Todd Figi, and one person who made a donation on behalf of his grandson and wished to be recognized as “Leo Loves Fireworks!” Longtime contributors La Valencia Hotel have pledged $3,000 toward this year’s event.

Fireworks organizer Deborah Marengo noted that Lower Girard Avenue and Coast Boulevard will be closed from 5 to 11 p.m. the day of the event, for safety reasons, and there will be no parking permitted on Coast Boulevard during that time.

Marengo asks that attendees — some of whom arrive early that morning to secure a spot on the grass to set up blankets and picnic equipment — be courteous to others and follow park rules posted on signage. Consumption of alcoholic beverages in the park is not permitted. “We do appreciate it if everyone cleans up after themselves,” she said. “It’s a pretty daunting task to clean up the entire park.”

Though most of the funds for this year’s event have already been secured, funding reserves are being sought for future 4th of July displays.

Those who wish to donate to this year’s fireworks or future pyrotechnics shows at La Jolla Cove can send a check or money order made out to the La Jolla Town Foundation, P.O. Box 89, La Jolla, Calif., 92038. Donations are tax deductible. Donors may request a receipt letter to submit when filing taxes.