Tarpon Fourth of July fireworks plans officially approved
TARPON SPRINGS - There was a slight trade-off, but the boom is definitely going to be back in Tarpon Springs this Fourth of July.City commissioners authorized the city manager and staff to move forward with an Independence Day fireworks display that will once again light the night sky for the first time since 2008.The last time the city sponsored a Fourth of July fireworks display was in 2007. After city commissioners declined to authorize a celebration in 2008 because of budget constraints, private donors funded the event.This year's show will cost an estimated $20,000.The slight rub is that Sunset Beach will have to close early during a busy day of coastal trips, boating and picnics. Fireworks will be set up and launched from the beach at the western end of Gulf Road, requiring a 1 p.m. closure. The on-site boat ramp will also need to be closed for use all day."My only concern is that I think it's a shame that we're going to have to close Sunset Beach at 1 p.m. and that the boat launch will have to be closed all day," said Commissioner Jeff Larsen.Commissioner Townsend Tarapani, who requested bringing back fireworks in May, echoed Larsen's comments but said the more important thing is putting the show back on.The city should use the time leading up to the holiday to encourage residents to stay in town during the day, Tarapani said. The 2013 "4th of July Patriotic Picnic in the Park" will take place from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Craig Park.The fireworks display, at Fred Howard Park, is set to begin at approximately 9 p.m. City officials are expecting a turnout of around 5,000.Commissioners were concerned during last month's discussion about potential parking fees at the county-owned Howard Park, but City Manager Mark LeCouris said Pinellas officials have agreed to forgo the fees if city crews are involved with cleanup efforts.