REDINGTON SHORES — The town’s fireworks display, a Fourth of July tradition witnessed by thousands, fizzled out this past year. The show’s failure to happen was a classic case of “everything going wrong that could go wrong.”
The vendor who had done the show for years backed out at the last minute, telling Mayor MaryBeth Henderson, “We can’t do it on the Fourth this year.”
Then a phone call blitz by Henderson had a company lined up. The mayor was praised for her telephonic search-and-rescue mission.
But at 9 p.m. on the Fourth, there were no fireworks to be seen. In a mix-up, they had been sent to Anna Maria Island, and thousands of spectators waiting to see the show in Redington Shores were told it was not going to happen.
As it turned out, the fireworks vendor was facing a number of lawsuits from communities that were also left in the dark on the Fourth.
The search for a fireworks vendor revealed the number of companies doing fireworks displays has dwindled, and those still in the business were overbooked. The town’s celebrated fireworks appeared doomed.
Then out stepped Ken Speed, a local resident who does fireworks shows. Speed said, if hired by the town, he would promise a spectacular show for the next July Fourth.
Speed has a track record. Earlier this year, his company did fireworks for the Super Bowl in Miami, among others.
At the March 11 Town Commission meeting, Mayor Henderson announced, “This is what we’ve all been waiting for — the fireworks.”
In a unanimous vote, the commission awarded the contract for this year’s Fourth of July fireworks display to Ken Speed Special Effects.
“He knows his business,” said then-Commissioner Tom Kapper.
“I’m very excited,” said Henderson. “The cost will be $12,500 vs. more than $15,000 for last year’s failed event.”
Assuming the current coronavirus crisis has abated, Speed has promised this year the fireworks will be set off in Redington Shores in a spectacular, even larger display, than before. They won’t be sent elsewhere by mistake.
“I’m a resident,” Speed said. “I can walk to the show site.”
Turtle patrol to be improved
There is a new permit holder this year for the turtle patrol on the mid-beaches (the Redingtons south to Treasure Island), Henderson said.
“That’s a good thing,” she said, “because last year the nests weren’t clearly marked and a lot of people trampled through them.” The nests were marked with cotton string that blended in with the sand, she said.
The new vendor is Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which is highly experienced in turtle related activities, and has overseen the nesting in the past. Henderson said they told her they will put reflective tape around the nests and paint the stakes.
“Hopefully we’ll have a better turtle season this year (because of the change),” Henderson said.
Turtle nesting season begins May 1.
Beach easements need to be signed
Henderson also urged condo residents to “pressure their condo association to sign the beach easements required to get the sand” for renourishment.
In order for the town to qualify for the next renourishment, scheduled for 2023, all owners of affected beachfront properties must sign the agreements. The deadline is the end of this year.
Henderson encouraged residents to call Town Hall if they have any questions about the easement signoffs.