Malibu had fireworks on the 4th of July, not just one display but two, one in the ocean off Ramierz Canyon and the other off Broad Beach Road.
Bully for us. Now the intrigue. The company producing the fireworks displays, Pyro Spectaculars of Rialto, was very closemouthed about who was paying for them.
A spokesperson said the benefactor’s identity was confidential. A guard at the Malibu Colony Homeowner’s Association said the benefactor was “a private bank” but declined to name the bank.
The person producing the fireworks is Jean Starr, a 51-year-old, Bellflower grandmother who started producing fireworks displays in her spare time while she worked for Sears selling auto parts. She quit Sears and became a show producer in 1986. Starr passed a written test by the state of California and produced hundreds of shows. She works for the Souza family, who have owned the company since 1905.
Among Starr’s credits; the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, the 1985 Statue of Liberty Centennial and the 50th Anniversary of the Golden Gate bridge. Pyro hired her over 1,000 freelance pyrotechncians for the 4th of July weekend. Malibu was assigned about 20 of them, working on two different barges brought up by tugboat from Long Beach, and anchored well offshore. Because it is the millennium year, some special millennium shells were ordered, which Pyro spokesman, Ron Smith, said will be “special.”
Planning a fireworks display is similar to doing choreography for a dance number. Starr has all the fireworks bar-coded and laid out in a line so she knows what the show will look like, explosion by explosion. She can re-arrange the order to achieve various effects. Any music will have to be provided on land, as her technicians are too busy firing off the fireworks in the correct order.
Smith said wind direction is looked at, but “the barges are anchored well enough offshore that there is no worry.”
Two permits were issued for fireworks displays and fire officials were aware of the displays. The Coast Guard was also on duty to prevent any private boats from getting too close to the barges firing off the fireworks.
Editor’s note: p.s. Just before we went to press we learned that, in fact, there were at least three fireworks shows (which,, of course, doesn’t count the unsanctioned displays) off the Malibu coast, with the third in the area of the Colony.