July 4th Fireworks on west side of Lesner Bridge explained by the Fireworks Coordinator and owner of VA Pyro.

Jill Doczi, who coordinated Shore Drive Civic League’s Fireworks Committee for the Ocean Park, Baylake Pines & Chesapeake Beach neighborhoods and Ron Silva Jr., owner of Virginia Pyrotechnics explain what happened at the July 4th Fireworks.

As you witnessed, there was a delay, and hundreds of you left before a terrific finale.

A six inch shell malfunctioned during the display which caused several other six inch shells to detonate on the deck of the barge…

Due to the extensive training of VA Pyro’s crew, were we able to determine the problem quickly and prevent further misfires and damage…

July 4th 2013 over the Chesapeake Bay

I realize this display was not a show the community has come to expect from VA Pyro.

I apologize for the disappointment that this has caused.

We are one hundred percent willing to discuss a discount for next year’s display in the hope of reassuring the community that we appreciate their business, and want the opportunity to put on a spectacular event next year like it’s used to seeing from VA Pyro.

Jill’s letter to you:

Hello neighbors,

Ron Silva at VA Pyro, our fireworks vendor since we started doing a professional show, sent the attached letter of explanation for the delay in the finale…

Read Mr. Silva’s letter. [1 page PDF]

Jill’s letter continued:

Here are the answers to several other questions that have come up as a result of this year’s show:

Could there have been some kind of announcement made at the time to let the community know what was happening?
There has been a suggestion that we might have minimized the disappointment by somehow announcing what was wrong in real time. Unfortunately, due to the crisis-management nature of the situation, the answer to the cause of the delay, approximate time it would take to pull together a finale and whether or not it would even work, an announcement in real-time was impossible. It was a very fluid and evolving situation and the outcome at the time was not evident.

Was the company the same we’ve used in the past?
Yes, it is the same company as always, but different shooter on the barge.

Why did the location change? It looked like it was closer to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel than expected.
The barge was in the exact spot as last year, as determined by landmarks and GPS coordinates. I walked down just to make sure. It’s always directly in front of Rookery Way in Aeries, Ocean Park. It’s the dead center GPS point of the three communities. It is also far enough from the Bay Bridge Tunnel as determined by numerous permitting agencies. The distance from shore is determined both by permitting agencies and the tide/draft of the barge. The barge was further east in the afternoon and then moved into position after the yacht was moved by marine police.

Do we compare prices and look at the recommendations of other shows around the area?
Yes, of course. While we have a track record of this company working well with our community, the best interests of the community are always the main priority, from financial, safety and satisfaction standpoints.

Did the company, at any time react in an inappropriate or unsafe manner?
The fireworks show requires many permits from many agencies before getting final approval by the fire marshal and the city. All requirements were met or exceeded by the company. In addition, I am aware of the stringent emergency response training voluntarily required by the company. They use many of the same experienced shooters and staff year after year, so the employee turnover is minimal while the employee experience is increased every year. After viewing footage of some of the shows throughout the country that had major issues, I feel even more grateful that we have a barge instead of a land show. The barge puts it safely out of range of the viewers and is clearly worth the extra cost. I will add that I have seen the photos of the incident, and because of the way VA Pyro sets up a barge show, only the one rack was affected. Unlike other shows with malfunctions throughout the country, the damage and possible malfunction of other racks of shells was eliminated. Because of that, the crew on the barge was able to assess the situation, recoup and provide a belated finale for our show.

Please take the time to read his letter of the explanation of the experience. While I am sorry and saddened that some neighbors were disappointed in this year’s show, I do understand that explosives, like weather, are sometimes unpredictable. In this case, there might be a larger picture that still needs closer examination as to the cause. That being said, we can only learn from this experience and continue to try and outdo last year’s performance.

In closing, it’s difficult to top last year. We have set a very high standard. This is the way I see it…

In closing, it’s difficult to top last year. We have set a very high standard. This is the way I see it: we had gorgeous weather, a perfect start time, the fireworks were enjoyable until the fire, I got to watch them with my favorite people, I didn’t have to drive anywhere or deal with parking hassles, no one was seriously hurt and although there was a gap, we had an incredible finale. The only way I can look at it is positively and improve based on what was learned. The fireworks vendor agrees, and is learning more as the days go on. There will likely be more information to share and I plan to have a complete report in the September newsletter. I will share information at the September civic league meeting as well. Additionally, Ron Silva, the company owner, has expressed a willingness to participate in a community follow-up meeting, should we request one.

Thank you for this year’s support and for supporting future shows in the best community in Virginia Beach. Happy belated Fourth of July!

Jill Doczi
jilldoczi@aol.com

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