Ryon Memorial Park in Lompoc
Ryon Memorial Park has been picked as the site for this year’s Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show in Lompoc. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Lompoc’s Fourth of July fireworks show has new life and a new home.

The City Council on Tuesday night agreed to stage the event at Ryon Memorial Park on West Ocean Avenue after officials earlier said the community event would not occur.

The event has taken place for more than 30 years at Lompoc High School’s Huyck Stadium. However, renovations began last year at the stadium to install synthetic turf and a rubberized track, leading to an announcement that the fireworks show would not take place.

Amid discussions about the show’s cancellation, the City Council directed staff to explore potential other sites. 

Christie Alarcon, the community development director, said Tuesday night that city staff from multiple departments met to discuss alternative sites.

“It’s hard to get everybody in agreement on these types of things, but having all of those players at the table, we were all in agreement that this would be our most feasible site to do this,” Alarcon said of Ryon Park.

Staff analyzed six locations — Johns-Mansville Park, agricultural fields west of the city, the Lompoc Airport, Riverbend Park, River Park or Ryon Park.

The airport would require Federal Aviation Administration permission, which can be difficult to get for nonaviation-related activities. Riverbend Park also might be in the flight path for the airport.

Several of the proposed locations were nixed because of worries about fire hazards.

The fireworks show attracted 2,500 people in 2019, 2,700 people in 2018 and 2,300 in 2017, including paid and comp attendees. 

Ryon Park already hosts the city’s annual events, including SpringFest in April and the Lompoc Valley Flower Festival in late June. This year’s Flower Fest is scheduled for June 24-28.

Councilman Jim Mosby said the timing may allow the city to work with the Flower Festival organizers to keep some of the food booths and other features.

“Is there a way we can be creative with this component?” Mosby asked.

Alarcon said staff wanted to wait for council approval before discussing the possibilities for coordination to “kind of make it a continuing party.”

The city estimated that the Independence Day event budget would total $39,060, with $25,000 going to fireworks. Other expenses would include fencing, toilets, security, staffing and more.

Sponsorships and ticket sales would bring in more than $32,000 in revenue, leaving a gap of about $7,000 that could be covered by General Fund money or donations from the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Foundation or individuals.

“Recreation’s really good at getting creative, and they are also very, very good at stretching the dollar,” Alarcon said.

Councilman Victor Vega asked whether the city could forgo the professional aerial fireworks and just hold an event for people to use safe-and-sane fireworks.

Alarcon said that posed concerns about oversight and liability for the city if people ignited their own fireworks on Lompoc-owned property.

“They’re not allowed to light any kind of safe and sane fireworks in their picnic area,” Alarcon said. 

She suggested polling community members to see whether they would be willing to pay admission if the aerial show doesn’t occur beyond 2020.

“I got excited about the fact that it could become a new, different, improved version of what we had before because we see so many people going to the Flower Festival,” City Manager Jim Throop said. “It’s going to be similar, but it’s actually now going to be even more family oriented.”

He also said that food trucks and bands leading up to the fireworks show could help attract attendees to make it break even. 

Mayor Jenelle Osborne suggested looking at inviting the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition to create a bike valet or to include an incentive for using the city transit system to reduce parking problems near the park.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.