Sunday, January 21, 2018
News Roundup

Apollo Beach to host monster fireworks show on New Year's Eve

APOLLO BEACH — It started out as a small fireworks show on New Year's Eve for restaurant customers but has morphed into a nearly $30,000 pyrotechnic extravaganza for the entire community.

A fireworks show will light up the Apollo Beach sky on New Year's Eve, and no one is more thrilled than Vic Granowicz, co-owner of Circles, a waterfront restaurant in the heart of town, who spearheaded the big show.

It's a perfect thank-you to the Apollo Beach community, he said.

"The community has built us," Granowicz said. "We wouldn't be here if not for the community. The Apollo Beach community is responsible for our success."

In October, Granowicz and Circles co-owner Chris Bodensky, who is also the restaurant's executive chef, tossed around ideas to put some sparkle into their New Year's Eve festivities for customers. Bodensky suggested a fireworks show, a little bigger than the one they had in the restaurant's parking lot a few years ago. They decided to spend $5,000.

Then, they wondered if they could put together a bigger show, one that could be shared with both customers and the Apollo Beach community.

Granowicz, 41, envisioned a massive fireworks show, something that could be enjoyed by thousands.

But Circles only had $5,000 for a fireworks show. Much more would be needed to put on a display that would generate broad smiles and wild applause.

So, Granowicz sent out emails. Dozens of them. He had little success in the beginning and then got a response from TECO, which manages the Big Bend power station and Manatee Viewing Center. TECO pledged to match Circles' contribution. Other donations soon flowed in, eventually amounting to a total of $27,500 from 17 sponsors.

Their fireworks show, Granowicz believes, will be the largest production in Florida on New Year's Eve.

"It's kind of the talk of the town," Granowicz said, excitedly. "People are planning parties around the event."

Resident Randall Laurent is one of them. He plans to watch the show with his two sons and friends.

Laurent recognizes the fireworks show could draw thousands, many of them from outside their little town of about 15,000 nestled on Tampa Bay.

But, Laurent won't mind the crowds or the noise. He's thrilled to see a fireworks show in his city. He has even encouraged friends from other suburbs to pop by for the event.

"I think it's great," he said. "It's a good family event."

Granowicz, his sister, Christie, and their parents Don and Donna, opened Circles about 15 years ago.

Granowicz, who is also an architect, said the restaurant was his first project after graduating from the University of Florida. He designed and built the restaurant, which showcases breathtaking views of Tampa Bay.

Granowicz and his sister recently bought their parents' share of the business and brought in partners Bodensky and Michael Takacs. But, their parents really haven't left. Mom still makes the restaurant's desserts and "my dad is our best customer," Granowicz said, laughing.

Pyrotecnico, one of the top fireworks companies in the country, is producing the 15-minute show that will be choreographed to music. The show will start at midnight. Fireworks will be launched from a floating barge in Bal Harbor.

It will be a special night, Granowicz said, and one he can't wait to see. It was a struggle early on to secure funding, hire a fireworks company and obtain various permits, including one from the Coast Guard. So, he is still somewhat shocked that it all came together and Apollo Beach will be the epicenter of such an amazing event.

"Apollo Beach is a little, tiny town," he said.

Circles' customers and nearby residents will have the best view of the fireworks show. The restaurant opens at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 31 and closes at 2 a.m. on Jan. 1. But, Granowicz promises that the show will entertain many more.

"The show will be big enough to see on I-75," he said.

Monica Bennett can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

CHICAGO — It didn’t take the sound of a door slamming in the visitor’s dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay believed it had worked hard against the Wild — at least, harder than it did in Thursday’s letharg...
Updated: 1 hour ago

nationResearchers work to avoid another 1918 super-flu The descriptions are haunting. Some victims felt fine in the morning and were dead by night. Faces turned blue as patients coughed up blood. Stacked bodies outnumbered coffins. A century after on...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Hillsborough diver who died in Eagle’s Nest Cave was adventurous but experienced

Davin Brannon was a pilot, a spearfisherman, an avid cave and open-water diver and an experienced all-around adventurer, said those close to him ."I guess you could say he died doing what he loved," his cousin Pam Kirven said. "But I also know he’d n...
Updated: 2 hours ago
‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

LOS ANGELES — The Western-inspired revenge tale Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri swept the female-focused and led Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday with wins for best ensemble, best actress for Frances McDormand and best supporting actor for...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Shutdown opens week

Shutdown opens week

Associated PressWASHINGTON — The government shutdown will extend into the workweek as the Senate appeared to inch closer to ending a partisan stalemate late Sunday but fell short of agreement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Record number of inmates died in Florida prisons last year. And they died younger than past years.

Record number of inmates died in Florida prisons last year. And they died younger than past years.

More inmates died in Florida prisons last year than in any other year on record, leaving the state scrambling to identify causes and find solutions. The tally, 428 inmate deaths in 2017, was released late Friday by the Florida Department of Correctio...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Oxfam highlights sharp inequality as Davos elite gather

DAVOS, Switzerland — A CEO from one of the world’s top five global fashion brands has to work for just four days to earn what a garment worker in Bangladesh will earn in an entire lifetime, campaigning group Oxfam International said Monday. In advanc...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Amazon opens cashier-less store in Seattle

SEATTLE — Amazon employees have been testing it, but is the public ready for a cashier-less store? More than a year after it introduced the concept, Amazon is opening its artificial intelligence-powered Amazon Go store today in downtown Seattle. The ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
At second St. Petersburg Women’s March, 5,000 focus on

At second St. Petersburg Women’s March, 5,000 focus on "what we can do"

ST. PETERSBURGNear Mirror Lake, as protesters posed for pictures, hung signs on their dogs and distributed chant scripts just after noon Sunday, Linda Pair and her friend Beth Gavin arrived to march.Asked why she came out, Pair, 72, of Largo put it b...
Updated: 3 hours ago
USF women blow late lead, lose at Wichita State

USF women blow late lead, lose at Wichita State

WICHITA — USF led by eight points in the fourth quarter but went cold, and Wichita State pulled off the upset 64-56 Sunday afternoon in a potentially costly loss for the Bulls.USF (15-5, 5-2 American Athletic Conference) missed 14 of its last 15 fiel...
Updated: 4 hours ago