Fireworks at Crowley Lake. File photo
Any move that would compromise the iconic Crowley Lake fireworks show on the Fourth of July would be a disaster, the town’s Recreation Commission declared last Tuesday.
“Why mess with something that’s already successful?” asked commission chair Bill Sauser.
The commission took up the matter as a result of a push by some members of the business community to scrap the fireworks and use the $29,000 expense by moving the extravaganza into Mammoth Lakes proper.
Brent Truax, the director of the Mammoth Chamber of Commerce, proposed a scheme by which the town would “animate” both Main Street and Old Mammoth Road, with a three-tiered fireworks display at the Village, the Westin-Monache hotel roof (Truax is the manager of the hotel) and another venue—possibly Canyon Lodge.
There might be a beer garden, he suggested. There might be stages for bands up and down both streets. There would be bouncy stuff for kids. And so on.
His quasi-plan came on the heels of complaints by Town Councilmember Matt Lehman, who argues that the town loses business money because the town empties out, starting about mid-afternoon.
But Sauser said he sees things the other way around.
“The fireworks show at Crowley actually draws people to town,” he said.
Other members of the commission also sounded the alarm.
Commissioner Tony Colosardo said that things to do in town on the Fourth are fine and dandy, but those are items that are “wheels on the side.”
Another thing that bugged the commissioners is that a move from Crowley would remove the picnic-barbecue aspect.
“I can’t imagine packing people into the Village to stand like sardines,” said Commissioner Teri Stehlik. “That would be an experience, but it’s not the kind of experience our visitors and locals would want to have.”
Furthermore, she said, it’s too late in the game to change the way Mammoth would celebrate the 2012 Fourth.
“One of my concerns is that there’s too much of a push,” she said. “Let’s not rush to do something fast but not necessarily properly.
“There’s no business plan,” she said of Truax’s proposal. “There’s no plan at all.”
Even so, to pull off the Crowley fireworks show is going to take some creative effort.
In the glorious, profitable past (except for the disastrous 2006 show, cancelled at the last minute because of an insurance snafu), the town spent up to $37,000 for the show. It routinely recoups some of the money from a cut of vehicle fees.
This year, budget cuts have sliced the cost to $29,000—and even coming up with that amount is going to be a problem.
The commission indicated it would try to negotiate with Pyro Spectacular, Inc. to produce the same show, but for less money.
In addition, the commission hinted that a change in fee structure might mitigate costs. One such idea is to charge a per-person fee rather than a per-vehicle fee.
But the major decision came through as loud as an exploding fireworks shell.
Move the fireworks from Crowley Lake?
No, no and no—a thousand times no.