The show will not go on this year for two of La Jolla’s premiere summer events at the Cove - the Fourth of July fireworks display and Movies By The Sea - both victims of the recession.
But it will be business as usual for a third signature community get-together, the 26th annual free Concerts By the Sea summer music festival held Sundays from June 28 to Sept. 6 at Scripps Park.
“It just kind of feels like the end of an era,” said La Jolla restaurateur George Hauer, who’s hosted Independence Day fireworks along with First Republic bank as a community tradition for 24 years.
In a press release issued May 29, Hauer cited rising permit costs and other city fees, like police and parking enforcement, as well as the sagging economy, as contributing factors for placing the annual fireworks show on hiatus.
“The event has simply become cost-prohibitive, particularly given the current economic climate,” said Hauer, who put the overall cost of staging the annual event at about $27,000.
“We have been putting on this show for our neighbors since we opened our doors in the mid-1980s, but at a certain point we have to stop and look at the numbers. It was a tough decision, but this year, it just didn’t make smart business sense for us.”
Hauer estimated he’s spent as much as $400,000 on staging the event over the last 24 years. He added his decision to discontinue hosting fireworks had nothing to do with the fortunes of his restaurant, George’s at the Cove at 1250 Prospect St., which he said is “still successful, just less profitable.”
“This (fireworks) is a big commitment in terms of time, energy and money,” he concluded.
The money is also why Movies by The Sea, a joint summer project between Promote La Jolla, the community’s merchant district, and the nonprofit La Jolla Parks & Rec., Inc. that oversees Village parks, will not be showing movies. Since 2004, the films have been shown on an inflatable movie screen at the Cove the first two weekends of August.
But this year the Recreation Council did not receive a county grant it had applied for through Supervisor Pam Slater-Price’s office.
“Even the county is low on money,” said Hobe Schroeder, treasurer of the parks group. “They felt a grant for $7,000 for one or two movies was too much.”
Last year, Schroeder said $9,000 was received in funding from Slater-Price and from then-Councilman Scott Peters’ office.
Asked whether the event could be revived, Schroeder said, “Nobody knows what’s going to happen next year.”
Despite the other activities woes, Concerts By The Sea is a go again this year, though sponsorship is down, said Nancy Miller, longtime treasurer for the board of the 501 c3 nonprofit group which stages the annual event.
“We only have half the sponsors that we usually have,” she said. “We’ll be sending out a letter soon just to anyone we can think of asking for donations.
Miller said half of the budget for staging the 11-week summer music fest comes from a raffle and concession sales onsite, and the other half comes from sponsors. “We’re short about a quarter to a third of what we need,” said Miller.
Concert sponsors this year are Casa de Manana, Cymer Inc., Kiwanis Club of La Jolla, La Jolla Rotary Club and White Sands of La Jolla.
Darcy Ashley, immediate past president of La Jolla Town Council, said it’s regrettable events are falling by the wayside due to the economy. But she added it might serve as a wake-up call.
“Unfortunately, sometimes we need to lose things in order to figure out what we as a community want, and work together on as a community to see them funded.”