La Jollan secures funding for 2015 fireworks

Merchants Association Report: Reserves sought for future 4th of July displays

The organizer of La Jolla’s annual Independence Day fireworks, Deborah Marengo, is breathing a little easier after some early and much-needed assistance raising funds for this year’s event.

David Marino and his firm, Hughes Marino (which represents commercial tenants in lease negotiations), donated $5,000 toward the event — further pledging $5,000 per year to fund the fireworks as long as he resides in La Jolla (something Marino has done quietly since 2008, when he first learned the event was threatened with cancellation due to a lack of funds).

Marino secured $38,000 in commitments overall to pay for this year’s pyrotechnics display from friends and acquaintances — news he shared during the April 8 monthly meeting of the La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA) at Cuvier Club. “We sent an e-mail to hundreds of our neighbors and business associates and colleagues here in La Jolla, and through Deb’s efforts and the publicity around our e-mails, we were able to get the money together,” said Marino, who 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; Willis Allen residential real estate brokerage; La Jollan Steve Black, and two anonymous donors, one of whom made the 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.

An additional $10,000 in transient occupancy tax grant funding was received via the offices of the mayor and San Diego City Council president Sherri Lightner.

For the past several years, as July 4 approached, Marengo announced she would have to cancel the fireworks due to a lack of funding — at first attributed to the economic downturn and, later, because of litigation filed by Coast Law Group. The Encinitas- based firm sued over potential environmental impacts from the fireworks, making donors nervous about contributing to an event that might not take place, Marengo has said. Each year, by the time the city was ready to issue permits for the event, little money had been donated.

Marino said he wants to avoid that “last- minute fire drill” and “passing of the hat” by establishing reserves for future fireworks. He is urging others to donate to this year’s event, and to create an account for future events.

“This (fundraising) problem will be going on year after year ... so I’d like to use this as an opportunity to build up a war chest,” Marino said. “Let’s raise another $30,000 to $40,000 that we don’t need (this year) so we’ve got some dry powder going in each year in case there is another recession in three to five years, in case we have people fall out.”

LJVMA is partnering with Marengo and the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation to produce this year’s event. They are in discussions with the nonprofit La Jolla Town Foundation, which Marengo has used in previous years to receive fireworks donations so they will be tax- deductible. La Jolla Town Foundation would pay all fireworks vendors directly. Details on how to donate to fireworks shows at La Jolla Cove will be printed in a future edition of the Light.

For more information, e-mail Marengo at

In other LJVMA news

Art & Wine Festival: LJVMA unanimously approved street closures for the seventh annual La Jolla Art & Wine Festival, Oct. 10-11 on Girard Avenue, from Torrey Pines Road to Prospect Street. Event founder Sherry Ahern said more than 50,000 people attended last year’s event, which raised $36,500 for each of La Jolla’s three public elementary schools and one middle school. The related BraveCourt craft beer tasting on Saturday night, Oct. 10 returns for its second year (proceeds benefit pediatric cancer research). Artists and donors

are still sought for this year’s festival, which includes more than 100 fine artists, food trucks, a beer and wine garden, live music and children’s activities. More at

La Jolla Day at Petco Park: LJVMA will hold its second La Jolla Day with the San Diego Padres, 1 p.m. Sunday, June 14 when the Padres take on the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tickets are $34 — $5 of which benefits the LJVMA’s Sparkle & Shine campaign to clean the Village.

Tickets can be purchased at the La Jolla Village Information Center, 1162 Prospect St., or by calling Padres community relations manager Brad Dwight at (619) 795-5117.

Marketing Collective: LJVMA’s next marketing collective and brown-bag lunch will be 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 21 at La Jolla Library, 7555 Draper Ave. A representative from will explain how small businesses can promote themselves for $50 or less via Yelp’s marketing and business rating website. The event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, e-mail Heather Vrana at or

Loitering crackdown: Julio DeGuzman with the San Diego City Attorney’s office noted that business owners may request a “stay away order” for problem loiterers.

“We work closely with the San Diego Police Department to try and get the Superior Courts to give us a stay away order on anybody loitering around your businesses after they’ve been asked to leave,” DeGuzman said. “If they don’t leave and we have a lot of reports on the individuals, we go to Superior Court to ask for an order. This could include a four-block area or an eight- block area, but not the entire Village.” For more details, e-mail

Survey participation: LJVMA requests residents participate in its survey of local shopping habits to help fine tune its efforts to invigorate the Village business district. The group has received about 70 responses thus far, but is hoping for more than 250. To take the survey, e-mail