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Expense kills Channelside's Friday fireworks shows

TAMPA — The sluggish economy has claimed its latest victim: weekly fireworks at Channelside.

A Fourth of July show is still planned, but the Downtown Tampa Attractions Association says it has scrapped plans for weekly fireworks displays on Fridays this summer because it could not raise enough money from local businesses to pay for them.

"We just weren't successful in pulling it together," said Troy Manthey, chief executive officer of Yacht StarShip Dining Cruises and the association's president. "We have to raise the money to do it … and with the economy, everybody is either cutting or staying status quo."

The weekly fireworks drew more than 110,000 people downtown when they were last held in 2006, and organizers hoped for an even larger crowd at the 14 shows planned for this summer. But the Downtown Tampa Attractions Association and the Friends of the Riverwalk could not secure the $250,000 needed to stage the shows.

Manthey said he hopes the fireworks can be revived next summer.

Meanwhile, businesses at Channelside might sponsor another show or two this summer if they can cobble together enough money to pay for it, said Kathy Walsh, the entertainment complex's property manager. "I'm still pushing that we at least have a couple of other special events during the summer," she said.

The slumping economy will not rob Tampa residents of all their fireworks-watching opportunities this summer, however. A fireworks display is still planned to mark the Fourth of July, scheduled for 9 p.m. on July 4 at Channelside.

Thomas Kaplan can be reached at (813) 226-3404 or tkaplan@sptimes.com.

Expense kills Channelside's Friday fireworks shows 06/25/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 1:49pm]
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