Traditions make or break a community.
Parades, fireworks, Grad Night, Peddler’s Fair…annual events like these define us and give Benicia its identity. So it was rather disturbing when the City announced it was withdrawing funding for fireworks and the annual tree lighting.
In my Crockett youth, boys and girls couldn’t wait for fireworks each July. The all-day event put all-hands on deck for the day: Crockett Lions ran the parade, John Swett High School band mustered to march downtown, Crockett volunteer firefighters produced the fireworks in the evening. It’s the same in Benicia! Everyone in town participates. However today, I’m sorry to say, Crockett is much quieter.
In 2003, working hard to promote Crockett, a few of us hatched an idea to create a grand opening party for the Zampa Bridge which had just started construction. Spectacles sell and I couldn’t help propose a fireworks show on the Bay. Produced by Pyro-Spectacular – the famous Sousa fireworks family – it was an expensive and elaborate show. At $110,000, the fireworks were set on a sand-filled barge and floated out east of the Carquinez Bridges. Our secret finale included three 12-inch shells weighing over 100 lbs each! (Why so big?! The gunpowder required to launch a firework is one-inch diameter per 100 feet of lift). We were awestruck to see these suckers soar to 1,200 feet, almost three times the height of the Zampa towers! Incredible!
Fireworks. Drone shows. Spectacles. The bigger the better.
To ensure continuation of Benicia’s fireworks, Ace pivoted its drone show campaign and joining with Republic Services and Benicia Community Foundation, are making it happen. Special thanks to all of you who have contributed at Ace. And special gratitude to Republic Services and the Benicia Community Foundation for organizing and supporting the show!
With fireworks saved, it is time to take up the Holiday Tree Lighting. On that, it is my pleasure to announce that, starting this month, Ace will match all donations made at the hardware store, up to $10,000, towards the Tree Lighting. Your donations, matched by Ace, can raise $20,000 to help underwrite the event and ensure that Benicians can continue to gather for this year’s Tree Lighting!
Limits of City funding should not discourage us, but rather challenge us!
Fireworks and the Tree Lighting are important traditions that we need to preserve. As for the Drone show, I am not giving up yet! I would love to see that next year’s July 4th festivities expand to include a Drone show and waterfront entertainment!