Still no Fourth of July fireworks in Morro Bay, even after volunteer raised $18,000

Fireworks explode over barges at Tidelands park in Morro Bay on July 4, 2001.
Fireworks explode over barges at Tidelands park in Morro Bay on July 4, 2001. ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

A volunteer in Morro Bay raised almost $18,000 in one month to bring a July 4 fireworks display to the city for the first time in three years. But he didn’t apply for a permit in time, so now he’s trying to give all the money back.

Bill Luffee, president of Friends of the Morro Bay Harbor Department, had volunteered to organize the 18-minute fireworks show as a boon to merchants on the Embarcadero, which for the past few years have watched the city empty out after 4 p.m. as tourists head north to Cayucos for fireworks.

“My job was to raise the money, which was easy because everyone wanted it,” he said, expressing disappointment that the event had to be canceled. “I’m a little bit shell-shocked right now because of all the work I’ve put in and the money we’ve raised.”

Noaki Schwartz, public information officer with the state Coastal Commission, said he applied for the permit last month, which wasn’t in time for this week’s hearing.

“We probably started way too late because we haven’t done it in a few years. We didn’t realize the Coastal Commission’s iron hand,” Luffee said. “You have to go through due process, I get it. But it takes an act of God, and people can’t tolerate it.”

He offered donors a refund in an announcement on Facebook and at a meeting for the Friends of the Morro Bay Harbor Department.

Morro Bay will still host a daytime event with children’s activities at Tidelands Park, as well as a morning bike parade.

As for next year? No one has made a commitment to try again, yet.