Jeff Pack
Staff Writer

Heeding the advice of Temecula City Attorney Peter Thorson, the city of Temecula Community Services Department announced that they would be canceling a tentatively scheduled Fourth of July fireworks display at Ronald Reagan Sports Park.

“The city of Temecula Community Services Department notified vendors the July 4 fireworks display was being canceled to avoid unrecoverable costs to the city and based upon the opinion of city attorney Peter Thorson,” a press release issued by the city late Wednesday night stated. 

That leaves the city of Lake Elsinore, which moved to host a July 4 fireworks show earlier this week and the city of Menifee as the only two cities in southwest Riverside County planning to host a fireworks display on Independence Day. 

The Temecula City Council originally provided direction to move forward with the fireworks display to the community services department during a May 6 special meeting. 

Council members were split 3-2 with councilmembers Mike Naggar, Mayor James Stewart and Mayor Pro Tem Maryann Edwards voting in favor of moving forward with fireworks show over the objections of councilmembers Matt Rahn and Zak Schwank.

In the press release issued Wednesday, the city explained that the city council’s approval of the fireworks show would be contingent on two factors — county and state orders that would not prohibit the event due to the coronavirus pandemic and that vendors would consent to a late cancellation without fees or costs to the city if the city had to cancel the event. 

In a letter dated May 27, Thorson explained that although recently revised, current state orders still prohibit mass gatherings. 

“The July 4th fireworks show, in which people are allowed to gather in-person at Ronald Reagan Sports Park, its parking lot or the surrounding streets, would be a ‘mass gathering’ and would not be permitted by the Governor’s Executive Orders, the State Public Health Officer’s Orders or

the interpretations of these Orders by the California Department of Public Health,” Thorson wrote. “Beginning today, the vendors for the fireworks show will incur costs for their respective work for the fireworks show. While cooperating in good faith with the city, the vendors are not willing to consent to a late cancellation and waiver of these costs.”

According to the city, Garden State Fireworks, the city’s fireworks vendor, will apply the city’s deposit for the July 4th fireworks display to a future fireworks show.

The date of that event is yet to be determined.

Will Fritz contributed to this report. 

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com