It’s a big birthday, and it deserves a big show.
That’s the attitude organizers of the annual Manhattan Beach holiday fireworks had when planning this year’s extravaganza to mark the city’s centennial. The Dec. 9 event at the pier will feature not just one but two state-of-the-art pyrotechnics displays as well as a Navy plane flyover, a dance party and a rock and roll band.
The first fireworks show, at 7 p.m., will have the traditional holiday theme. The second one, at 8:30 p.m., will highlight the centennial.
“The centennial fireworks show will have amazing kinetic effects never seen in Manhattan Beach,” said Pete Moffett, the holiday fireworks show’s longtime producer. “This high-energy rock and roll fireworks show will be the pinnacle of the city’s centennial celebration.”
The centennial show will fire from eight locations on the sand, plus the pier.
“This show will stand out in locals’ memories for years to come,” said Moffett. “The fireworks team we have working on it have called it a dream show, and they have been doing this for a long time.”
Skechers is the main sponsor of the evening’s events, which are staged by Moffett’s production company in cooperation with the city of Manhattan Beach.
“The annual firework show is always a great way to kick off the holidays, but this year is exceptional,” said Skechers President Michael Greenberg. “Our community will be blessed with the once in a lifetime opportunity to celebrate Manhattan Beach’s 100 year anniversary. Skechers is fortunate to be a part of this special celebration and I hope that everyone will join us as we come together to show our love and support for this great city that we’re proud to call our home.”
Thanks to sponsorship from Skechers and others, this year’s event will also again feature the snow park for kids, with five 50-foot sled runs, and bouncing balloons. The snow park is open for visitors from 4 to 6:30 pm, with a canned food item, unwrapped toy or cash donation requested for admission.
The Santa float will also be at the pier starting at 4 p.m. and there will be a flyover of a U.S. Navy turbo-prop plane at 4:45 p.m.
There will be live music sponsored by L.A. Car Guy and featuring local favorites the John Brown Band and the L.A. All-Stars, a high-energy eight-piece rock and roll band. The Hyperion Outfall Serenaders, the city’s official band, will also perform. Folks are welcome to dance in the streets and along The Strand between the two fireworks displays.
This year’s extravagant event will illustrate just how far the holiday fireworks have come since they began in 1989.
“It started with a handful of local restaurant buddies as sponsors,” said Moffett. “We wanted to do something to give back to the community, we had no idea it would evolve to everyone’s favorite day of the year in Manhattan Beach as it has become for so many.”
It may be one day a year, but it requires months of planning and hard work.
“The most time-consuming part is raising the funds to pay for it all,” said Moffett. “Fortunately many of our sponsors have been on board for many years. The Kettle, for example, has been with us since year one.”
The show also requires a lot of special expertise, especially when it comes to the pyrotechnics. The show is designed by John Noonan, who says that the location is both an inspiration and a challenge.
“The challenge is to design a show and layout that considers the varying weather conditions that we may face,” he said. “Angles, shell types, and altitude are big factors to consider. We need to minimize the possibility that we would need to stop the show, or disable parts of it, if the fallout gets too close to the audience.”
Frances Marquez has been running the Manhattan Beach fireworks show for years. Her fireworks production company is called Fireworks America, and Marquez’s crew is The Flying Monkees.
Marquez, who also does fireworks for Disneyland, and her staff of 30 spend two days setting up the show. With two displays to stage this year, Marquez and her Monkees will be busier than ever.
“We hope everyone is ready to sing along with our traditional holiday show,” she said. “This will have an old fashion feel with lots of songs you remember from your childhood and the big red and green Christmas fireworks. Then bring your dancing shoes because when the smoke clears we will celebrate the Manhattan Beach centennial with a birthday dance party. This show will get you on your feet, clapping your hands and moving your feet as we bring the fireworks faster and closer then ever before. People are going to want to bring their cameras for this.”
The Manhattan Beach show has become a labor of love for Marquez and her crew.
“It is our favorite show of the year,” she said. “Setting up on the Pier, watching the sunset over the ocean, listening to the crowd roar after the show. There is nothing like it, you are so close to us. I hope everyone know that we can hear them. As soon as that last finale shell ends we wait to hear you and when you start yelling we are in that smoke jumping up and down, hugging each other and yelling back. We love doing this show.”
For the complete schedule and more information about the event, link to www.mbfireworks.com