So why were Channelside fireworks such a dud?

What went wrong with the Channelside firework show

Tampa, Fla. -- If you celebrated July 4th watching the fireworks display over at Channelside Bay Plaza in Tampa last night, you might have left a little disappointed.

Turns out, they weren't trying to be cheap. A Computer malfunction turned more than half of the pyrotechnic show into a disastrous dud.

“It was very disappointing,” said Sean Gilman, one of thousands of people who spent their Independence Day in Tampa this year lining the bridges, Bayshore Boulevard, and of course Channelside’s waterfront.  

Not cheap either. Parking. Food. And of course, hours of waiting all leading up to a fireworks fizzle. =

“I mean, we spent more time trying to get home then we did for the actual fireworks. It was kind of a big letdown. In my opinion,” said Gilman.

Instead of a 15 minute spectacular, it was a six minute dud.

The majority of mortars were left on a barge - unfired. 

“There were definitely pauses. And I didn't really notice a big obvious finale,” said Nathaniel Nieuwdam, who’d stood on Bayshore with friends to see the show.

“Why were the fireworks so very, very short?” asked Lisa Patel, who just missed it all when she tried to get from her apartment in downtown Tampa to to the waterfront.

The folks at Channelside Bay Plaza, who sponsor and paid for the show, say it was a computer malfunction. 

Workers with the production company Pyrotecnico were apparently even trying to desperately light the remaining rockets by hand, but it just didn't work.

“I can only imagine that they were feeling even worse. And doing the best they could to continue the show,” said Channelside’s spokesperson Darrah Winkler.

If you were wondering whether the misfire mishap was going to cost taxpayers, the answer is not really.

It turns out Channelside actually picks up the $15,000 tab for the fireworks, and another $35,000-$40,000 for security and production costs.

The city of Tampa does kick in about $9,000 worth of permits and overtime for fire and police protection. But the city says it would've been out there anyway with a crowd this size, fireworks or not.

“Live events can be unpredictable, and when it causes an unsatisfactory experience there's really nothing to feel good about,” said Winkler.

 What might be more difficult to calculate is the long term effect on local businesses.

“What's going to happen next year? Are people still going to remember that in the moment, or are they going to still come back?” asked Patel.

While some say the fireworks failure wasn't the worst thing that could happen on the day we celebrate our freedom, others were already threatening to try a different spot to get their fireworks fix next year.

“I'll probably be back in Clearwater for the next couple of years instead of Channelside,” said Gilman.

But Nancy Hernandez, who’d been to previous events, was more understanding.

“I mean, as long as they had a good time, things happen. It could've rained. And they would've postponed it anyway. Most of the time they do a good job. If it was always a bad job it would be different,” said Hernandez.

It doesn’t look like there will be any make-up event, either.

Channelside Bay Plaza officials say it just takes too long and too any people to make the shows happen on short notice.

They say the fireworks company Pyrotecnico is the same one they’ve been with for the past three years.

No decision yet on whether they’ll be contracted for upcoming shows.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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