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Originally published Tuesday, April 9, 2013 at 11:39 AM

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McGinn got heads-up, has plan to salvage Fourth of July fireworks

After learning from One Reel that it couldn’t put on the show, Mayor Mike McGinn and his staff came up with a plan they hope will save the July 4 fireworks show in collaboration with Seafair and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Before One Reel told the rest of Seattle last week it was canceling this summer’s fireworks, the nonprofit organization warned Mayor Mike McGinn.

Like any mayor running for re-election would, McGinn and his staff went to work.

After meeting with One Reel, which has put on the show since 1988, the mayor’s staff began to hunt for an organization to produce the show and others to help pay for it.

Tuesday, the mayor announced his plan to save Seattle’s July 4 tradition: Seafair will add the fireworks show to its summer calendar, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce will help raise the funds.

The goal is to create a show that lives up to One Reel’s production, but where it may be hosted is still up in the air.

Amazon, Starbucks and Microsoft have all said they intend to help sponsor the event.

“A fireworks show on the Fourth of July is a civic tradition,” McGinn said in a written statement. “I thank Seafair and the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce for their commitment to Seattle and for their leadership.”

The news came on the same day Seafair confirmed there will be no annual Blue Angels air show and the Navy said it couldn’t spare its ships for Fleet Week because of federal budget cuts. Seafair President and CEO Beth Knox said it was a coincidence that the announcements came on the same day.

The Angels’ grounding had Seafair officials looking to fill the slot. They came up with the California-based Patriots Jet Team, which will perform over Lake Washington for Seafair.

Seafair will say more about the fireworks show next week, Knox said, but McGinn spokesman Aaron Pickus said the “whole structure of the event” is being reconsidered.

That includes the location.

At the Family Fourth celebration held for years at Gas Works Park, fireworks were shot from a barge on Lake Union. But that’s expensive, from the tugboat that tows the barge into place to permits and insurance. A One Reel budget expected the explosives and the barge-related costs would be $220,000, nearly half the $500,000 cost of the entire event.

So Seafair is looking at Seattle Center and Elliott Bay as possible locations and is considering other pyrotechnic companies.

The show will be comparable to past years’, said Pickus, and the city will help by reducing permitting and security costs.

One Reel’s budget allotted $75,000 for permits and insurance, $90,000 for public safety at Gas Works, and $50,000 to broadcast the event on television. All those costs are being re-examined, Knox said.

Knox said the fireworks show is the perfect addition to Seafair, which has put on an eight-week summer festival from late June to mid-August for the past 64 years.

The chamber is helping raise money from local businesses for the event. The hope, Knox said, is to set up multiyear agreements with sponsors, or a fund with seed money for the next year’s show, so that the show is “sustainable.”

“What we don’t want is to have a fire drill every year,” she said.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com. On Twitter: @EmilyHeffter

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