Fireworks Seaside

Illegal fireworks explode over Seaside on July 4, 2016 as seen from Gen. Jim Moore Blvd.

In order to reduce the number of illegal fireworks in Seaside during Fourth of July, and in the days before and after, Seaside used a carrot and a stick. 

By all accounts, it worked. 

On July 5, Seaside Police Chief Abdul Pridgen delivered a report to City Council about his department's effort to crack down on illegal fireworks—which have plagued the city for years, and present an annual public safety concern—and offered these statistics: Seaside PD issued 22 citations for illegal fireworks, compared to just one citation in 2017. They seized 16 illegal fireworks as evidence for those citations, as well as an additional 37 illegal fireworks. 

Along with boots on the ground patrolling the city, the police also deployed two drones to hone in on illegal fireworks, and Pridgen said more citations might be given as the footage is undergoing review in the coming days. 

The citations come with a $2,500 fine, and will be adjudicated by students at the Monterey College of Law, Pridgen says. 

Seaside Fire Department also had good news to report. Division Chief Troy Leist told City Council that from the Fire Department's perspective, it "was probably the most uneventful Fourth of July many years."

Leist said the only fires were two trash fires caused by legal fireworks disposed of improperly. 

"That’s pretty astonishing," Leist said. "It was an overall success: Nobody got hurt, and we didn’t burn anything down."

Arguably, that's at least in part because the city held a professional fireworks show at Bayonet & Blackhorse golf courses that wowed attendees. 

The only hitch at the event, says Seaside Recreation Services Manager Nancy Towne, was that far more people showed up than expected.

Seaside Recreation Services Superintendent Dan Meewis says the Monterey County Sheriff's deputies who worked the event estimated there were between 20,000-25,000 attendees. 

Yet there were only 23 porta potties, Towne says, and the lines for food vendors and games were likewise long. 

But other than that, she says the city is chalking up the event—and the enforcement plan—as a big win. 

"There was definitely a decrease in illegal fireworks," Towne says, "I think this is the start of discouraging that practice. Frankly, I was surprised how successful it was to doing that."  

Editor's Note 7/11/18: This post has been updated to reflect the estimated attendees provided by Meewis. 

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