BY DAVID JAMES HEISS
The city of Banning had allocated $27,000 to potentially contract with Rialto-based Pyro Spectaculars, Inc. to perform fireworks on July 4, assuming that the pandemic has subsided enough to allow for large outdoor gatherings.
At the city’s April 13 council meeting, Councilman Kyle Pingree asked Parks and Recreation Director Ralph Wright as to whether that funding could be spent elsewhere, rather than throwing a massive fireworks display, and suggested that funding for lights at various city parks and fields could be a longer term benefit.
Wright told him that the funding could be used for other functions and “could absolutely be reallocated.”
Mayor Colleen Wallace wanted to know if there were other family friendly events or programs the city could host to celebrate July 4.
Wright indicated “We could just have an event at a lesser cost without fireworks that may be less enticing.”
Councilwoman Mary Hamlin inquired as to how the price tag compares to fireworks displays in other cities; Wright said that budgets for shows in cities the size of Banning usually run between $15,000 to $30,000.
Hamlin proceeded to suggest “We could have some fireworks, but not do something outrageous, and have it scaled back and maybe do something else with the rest of the money.”
Hamlin said “By July 4 we’re going to need a community event, especially if restrictions are lifted in June — the community will be ready.”
Wright told her that he would discuss options with Pyro Spectacular, but with a deadline for a deposit due before this week’s end, chances seemed slim that he could get the company to pare down the price for services, without discouraging the company to seek more lucrative business elsewhere.
The company, he claimed, does more than 400 Fourth of July events on Independence Day.
Wright told the council that there are virtually no other companies that put on fireworks displays, making it more of a challenge to get competitive bids for such a program.
Former planning commissioner Inge Schuler addressed the council on the item, telling them “If July 4 is anything like last year’s, ‘incessant’ uncontrolled fireworks performances began nearly three weeks prior to July 4 last year, and we may not need a spectacular” display. She wanted to know how the city could go about getting a better grip on “viral” unlicensed fireworks popping up all over the city.
City Manager Schulze, addressing the concerns over cost, suggested that city council move forward with authorizing “up to” $27,000 to enter into a contract with Pyro Spectaculars, and direct parks director Wright to negotiate a lesser amount.
Councilman Alberto Sanchez made the motion, which was passed unanimously.
Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org , and messages may be left at (951) 849-4586 x114.