Cape Story by the Sea Civic Association Asks City to Take Over 4th of July Fireworks

July 1, 2019 Update: NO SHOW for 2019

It appears there will not be a Fireworks on the Bay show for 2019.  We have to assume with zero response from the City of Virginia Beach to the request made at the March meeting and monthly follow up status inquires that the City hasn’t had the time or focus to address the request for this year.  The request will be continue to be made in hopes the City can support it for July 4th of 2020.

The following notice was sent by Cape Story Civic Association President:

Cape Story Civic League Members,

Please note- there will NOT be an official CSBTS fireworks presentation the night of July 4th this year.

Those who have kept in-tune with the civic league meetings are aware that the costs, effort and regulations set forth by the State fire marshal’s office interfered with our efforts to present a worthwhile program moving forward. Attempts to have the City either take over or work with us on an alternative plan were thwarted this year.

Therefore, we will not have a separate fireworks show at our end of the beach in 2019. Please share this update with any interested family and friends.

Additional details and background information may be found at the Cape Story website:

The Civic Association officers will continue to work with the City to confirm our options so this tradition can continue in subsequent years with a bigger, better and safer show.

More information to come!
Best regards,
Diana/CSBTS Civic Association


April 1 2019 Update:

Since last year’s 2018 4th of July Fireworks show, Cape Story Coordinators have been trying to find a way to continue this 35 year old tradition many have come to love and enjoy.  Here is a brief snapshot of what has happened since last year’s show.

  • Last year’s show had many logistic problems and delays in set up.  This resulted in 1/5th of the show not being displayed.
  • There are no current fireworks companies willing to do this year’s show.
  • The State Fire Marshal has reduced the maximum size shell that can be fired from the State Park site to 2.5 inch (250 ft. height).
  • Cape Story Coordinators have investigated costs to do a similar show using a barge.  Costs to rent a barge range from $8,000 to $12,000.  Doubling the cost of the show was determined to not be feasible based on the past 10 years of contributions.
  • Since last year’s request for new coordinators, no volunteers stepped forward to take over the non-profit event.
  • The State Park will not take over the show.
  • The CSBTS Civic Association determined in an effort to keep the show going that the City should be asked to take over coordination and execution of the event and to incorporate it as part of the budget that covers the summer oceanfront shows.  The request was for a single barge that would have an equivalent number and size shells that we had prior to all of the State regulations for land shot shows.
  • CSBTS Civic Association sent the letter below to the Bayfront Advisory Commission (BAC) making the request official.
  • A meeting was held in March 2019 with City Councilman, City Deputy Manager, CSBTS representatives, BAC representatives and Oceanfront Entertainment representatives.
  • The request is being evaluated with hopes of approval in time for a 2019 show.


Below is the request letter sent to the Bayfront Advisory Commission.  A printable versions of the letter can be found by clicking here BAC City Council Request Letter 2019

February 21, 2019
Dear Chairman Kassir,

For the past 35 years the Cape Story by the Sea (CSBTS) Civic Association has coordinated the annual 4th of July Fireworks on the Bay event which takes place on Cape Henry Beach and is viewed by residents from the Lesner Bridge to Fort Story. Unfortunately due to increasing State Fire Marshall regulations and difficulty finding a vendor/shooter that can support the demanding site set up requirements, there are no plans for a show this year and the 2018 show was the last to be coordinated by CSBTS.
This show has become a tradition for over 5000+ residents, 100s of tourists in Bayfront hotels, 100s of vacationers at First Landing State Park and Soldiers stationed at Fort Story. Even though it is small in comparison to Oceanfront and Mt. Trashmore displays, it will be greatly missed.

On behalf of Cape Story by the Sea Civic Association, the event coordinator, I have been instructed to present the following formal request as approved via a unanimous general meeting vote on February 11, 2019.

CSBTS Civic Association formally requests the City of Virginia Beach to take over coordination and execution of the 4th of July Fireworks on the Bay event located along the Cape Henry Beach in the Bayfront area. We suggest that this show become a barge shot show and incorporated as part of the annual Oceanfront entertainment provided by Integrated Management Group.

The Cape Story by the Sea Civic Association would also like for the Bayfront Advisory Commission (BAC) to support this request and to help pursue a 2019 implementation. BAC facilitated meetings with Integrated Management Group, City Staff and City Council are welcomed as well as other methods deemed helpful by BAC members. The CSBTS Civic Association will have officers available to attend meetings and support all efforts.

Thank you for considering this request to help continue this wonderful local patriotic tradition.

Todd Solomon – 4th of July Fireworks on the Bay event chair for the past 20 years ; 757-667-8533 cell

4th of July Fireworks on the Bay Information Sheet

The following background information is being included to help answer possible questions related to this request.
Basic Details:
• Show Costs: Total cost = $15,000. $12,000 fireworks/$2,500 fundraising/$500 permits & security.
• Launch Site – First Landing State Park from beach over the Bay. Trucks that can drive on sand are required for set up.
• Permits – Virginia State Fire Marshall, Virginia DCR, Coast Guard Marine
• Viewing Area – Lesner Bridge to Fort Story, North of Shore Drive along Cape Henry Beach.
• Shell Size – 2.5 inch diameter shells
• Fundraising – Bulk mailer to 4500 residents, Business donations and Civic Organization support.

Why now? How did we get here? – The Virginia State Fire Marshall regulations have reduced the maximum shell size allowed at the launch site from 5 inch to 2.5 inch over the past three years. This has made viewing near the Lesner Bridge impossible. Decreased viewing range has resulted in reduced donations and in turn a smaller show. Vendors already having difficulty supporting the event due to the adverse beach set up will not take on small shows where they can’t make a profit. Combine all of this and it leads to the eventual demise of this event.

Why not shoot the show from a barge? – Barge rental costs for individuals run about $10,000. Adding this cost to the total show cost results in a new total of $25,000 for the same size beach shot show. Historically when the largest shells were 5 inches, the average donation amount totaled $16,000. So the show had been operating pretty much break even for the past 20 years. The additional $8,000-$9,000 to put it on a barge would not receive the necessary funding support.


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