Scripps Mesa Fireworks return

Barbara Retsky (left) and Isabella Gonzalez are among the volunteers raising funds for the Fourth of July Scripps Mesa Fireworks show. (photo by John Gregory)

Scripps Mesa Fireworks return

The Scripps Mesa Fireworks show, held annually in Mira Mesa on the Fourth of July for the past 42 years, remains the closest fireworks display for the patriotic residents of Scripps Ranch. 

What many might not know is that this year’s event was nearly doomed, but the show’s overwhelming popularity brought about an incredible turn of events. Steadfast supporters such as Barbara Retsky and Isabella Gonzalez were out and about this past weekend, volunteering to raise funds for the fireworks display. Their extreme enthusiasm for the show is an indication of the die-hard effort it took to keep the event alive.

“I’ve lived in the community for 27 years and it’s always been in the community and it’s just a special thing,” Retsky said.

Gonzalez, whose husband is in the Marine Corps, is incredibly patriotic and has a special passion for the fireworks display because the military is honored throughout the show, she said.

“I love the fireworks. I love being a part of the community and I love seeing the community come around together for one cause, supporting everything they love, which is our nation,” she stated. 

But a clause in a contract between the San Diego Unified School District and the City of San Diego would have eliminated the fireworks display following the 2016 show, Retsky explained. In fact, the Scripps Mesa Fireworks nonprofit organization stated that the 2016 show would be its last, and a couple of press articles earlier in 2016 reported the same. 

The contract between the school district and the city stated that the fireworks, which are fired off from the grounds of Mira Mesa High School, could be detonated on the property as long as the district and the city co-owned the property. But when the contract ran out, the school district became the sole owner of the property, according to Retsky. The school district has a zero-tolerance policy for any fireworks on its properties. With a serious lack of another location available in the local populated area, especially with such high concerns regarding fire danger, the local fireworks show was about to end after 42 years. Then something incredible happened. One of the trustees, sensing the community’s overwhelming support for the fireworks, spoke up to change the board’s policy for one day a year. 

“One of the school board members from the community, Dr. Lee (Dist. A Trustee John Lee Evans), came back to the school (board) and said, this is too important for us. We need to have one day a year that we can have fireworks on the grounds of the school,” Retsky explained. “So, the school board overturned it and will allow it as long we continue to have it there.”

Now, the show will go on and the fundraising effort continues. The Scripps Mesa Fireworks show is funded entirely by donations. Beyond the fireworks and pay for the pyro technicians, costs include permits, security, rentals, insurance and cleanup. Any individual or company can contribute; there are different sponsorship levels. Corporate sponsors this year so far include Lehigh Hanson Inc.; Scripps Mesa Developers II, LLC; Vulcan Materials Company; and Mira Mesa Shopping Center. 

While the show is a go for next week, the organization is hoping to add more bang for its buck, and is accepting more funds.

“It’s a spectacular show, but we can make it super-spectacular,” Retsky said.

“If the community can continue contributing, we can make the fireworks show larger and bigger, which is ultimately what our goals is — to make a big show … for the community to enjoy without having to go somewhere far away when we’re so close,” Gonzalez said.

The artwork for the official T-shirt for this year’s Scripps Mesa Fireworks show was designed by elementary school student Melody Kim Nguyen.

Part of the fundraising efforts include the sale of official Scripps Mesa Fireworks T-shirts. This year there was a T-shirt design contest for elementary students and 100 contestants entered their artwork. The winning design was created by Melody Kim Nguyen, a student at Jonas Salk Elementary School. 

The Scripps Mesa Fireworks show will begin at 9 p.m. on July 4 and last about 20 minutes. Music will be synchronized with the fireworks display and broadcast on KyXy 96.5 Radio. The fireworks will be shot from the Mira Mesa High School campus. 

Retsky suggested viewers arrive early to find a place to watch the show. Mira Mesa Community Park is to the north and Mesa Verde Park is to the south. 

“What makes it so cool is there are viewing points everywhere,” Retsky said.


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