St. Pete leaders "completely surprised" by fireworks cancelation

Posted at 5:55 PM, Jul 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 18:15:24-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It was an independence let down in St. Petersburg, 45 minutes before the fireworks were set to go off, the company hired to do the display pulled the plug. 

"It just didn’t happen, and it didn’t happen and then eventually someone said they were canceled,” said Todd Welch, a resident of St. Pete, who was at a nearby restaurant waiting for the fireworks.

According to city officials, the $25,000 show was set to go off at 9:15 p.m. but at 8:30 p.m., Creative Pyrotechnics, the company that’s been doing the display for the last decade, told the city it wasn’t going to happen. 

"We were completely caught off guard, and completely surprised,” said Mike Jefferis, the Leisure Services Administrator for the City of St. Pete. 

The company told ABC Action News over the phone it was sorry for the cancelation. It says crew members arrived late for set up because of bad weather in the middle of the state. And during set up, crews say lightning set them back even more. 

"We had staff touch base with the vendor multiple times, the vendor assured us over and over they were prepped and ready,” said Jefferis, who isn’t buying that explanation. 

"It would appear to us as observers, as clients and customers of this company that they may have overextended themselves,” Jefferis added. 

"When that’s your business on such a special day and such a big event you would think that all the T's are crossed and the I’s are dotted,” said John Kuch, who got a hotel room at the Vinoy so he could watch the fireworks from his terrace. 

St. Pete officials say they chose not to do a makeup show Thursday because they’ve lost confidence in the company. Creative Pyro is the same company setting off fireworks in the city of Gulfport. 

Gulfport officials say the company was also late to set up at their show Wednesday. They say the company was supposed to show up at 9 a.m., and instead showed up at 3 p.m.

The company confirms the 20-minute show in Gulfport on the 4th was also canceled because of weather, but now with no makeup show in St. Petersburg scheduled, the company will extend the Gulfport show to 25 minutes, and use some of the supplies they had planned on using in St. Pete. 

The rescheduled show in Gulfport is expected to be held at 9 p.m. on Thursday.

"No, I’m not going down there,” said Kuch, who doesn’t think its worth the risk in case this show gets canceled too.

St. Pete officials say they will not pay Creative Pyrotechnics for their services and will find another vendor for next year.

"We’ve had nothing but fantastic shows from them, we had a fantastic relationship,” said Jefferis. "I have to tell you that in all of my career I have never been more and more surprised.”