City Says Fourth Changes Not A Big Deal

OCEAN CITY – Town officials are confident that visitors will not notice a few minor changes to the annual Fourth of July celebration in Ocean City, but they also don’t want people to forget that they saved thousands in the process.

As part of the city’s budget cuts in the off-season, City Manager Dennis Dare trimmed back the events leading up to the 18-minute Zambelli Internationale Fireworks displays on Saturday night.

“The fireworks are exactly the same as always.  However, on the beach we downsized from a more costly concert by a military band to a more reasonable local band, but we still will have a live band to entertain the crowd before the fireworks,” said Dare.

At Northside Park, Dare said the town eliminated the small carnival-type amusements that had been put up for families to enjoy in the baseball fields in previous years, which used to start at 5 p.m.

According to budget manager Jennie Knapp, most of the savings incurred by the town were in “folding costs.”

“We ended up saving almost $25,000 on the change in entertainment, and the costs to employees for set up and tear down of the stages, as well as the amusements, but the costs for the fireworks went up this year by about $7,500,” Knapp said.

In late January, the City Council voted 5-2, with council members Joe Hall and Margaret Pillas in opposition, to extend Zambelli Internationale’s contract through 2011 despite the annual rate increases for the two sites.

The Boardwalk fireworks display and the Northside Park display will each cost the town $31,250, for a grand total of $62,500 for the evening’s aerial “oohs and aahs.”

Zambelli Internationale is reportedly the most recognized name in fireworks and has been the town’s supplier for the last 12 years.  In January, Special Events Director John Sullivan said that the Zambelli company had to raise its rates due to increased product costs, and the decline of the value of the American dollar, as it is no secret that almost all of the fireworks used in this country are manufactured in China.

Those against the renewal of the contract with Zambelli didn’t care for the rate raise and thought that it would be prudent to go to the open market and search for a new company via Request for Proposal (RFP).

However, after much debate, the council thought better of it and decided to renew based on Zambelli’s excellent safety standards and unparalleled reputation.

For those who keep score, this year’s Zambelli display will cost the town $1,736 per minute, per site.