Sunday, August 19, 2018
News Roundup

With the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting nowhere, Tampa's fireworks go awry

TAMPA — The bombs were bursting in air according to plan until about halfway through the annual Fourth of July fireworks display near Channelside Bay Plaza.

Then the "ooohs" and "ahhhs" gave way to frustration as a fireworks audience of several thousand people experienced long segments of silence between the explosions of color they'd come to see. Instead of a grand finale, the show seemed to peter out.

"There was no big finish," said Donna Zimmerman, 49, of Brandon. "Very disappointed this year."

A likely computer glitch forced a technician to abandon the pre-programmed script and run the show manually, accounting for the sporadic pace of the show, said Christopher Liberatore, vice-president of sales for Pyrotecnico, the company hired to do the show.

"At the end of the day, it's electronic, it's a computer," Liberatore said. "Everyone that has a computer that failed them and this is no different. Hardware and software do weird things."

Things were going fine until around seven minutes into the show, when there was a long pause in the action.

At that point, Liberatore said, the technician was trying to troubleshoot the problem. The script for the 15-minute show, choreographed to music, is in a computer file and the computer is attached by a cable to the firework-firing mechanisms.

When the script failed, the technician switched the cable to another computer loaded with the same file running simultaneously. The backup unit should have picked up the script without interruption.

But that didn't work, either.

So the technician used the computer to launch the fireworks manually instead. It's possible but very difficult to manually replicate a choreographed show, even for a seasoned technician like the one at the controls, Liberatore said. That means some of the fireworks never launched.

"He did everything we could have expected him to," Liberatore said.

That the backup computer didn't work leads Liberatore to suspect a problem in the computer file containing the script.

For spectators, it translated to a stilted show cut short by several minutes.

"It wasn't fluid. It didn't progress into a bigger display like most fireworks," said Marcus Rodriguez, 33, of Tampa, his two kids, Elijah, 7, and Jazmine, 5, by his side. They said they enjoyed the show nonetheless.

During those silent periods, people near Channelside Bay Plaza were seen leaving the area. But Zimmerman, the Brandon resident, stayed longer, not sure she had seen the end.

"Usually you know it's over because of the finale," she said.

A host of sponsors and partners help put on the annual Light Up Tampa Bay Independence Day Celebration, according to Channelside Bay Plaza, including Budweiser, The Florida Aquarium and Port Tampa Bay.

"It was unfortunate and disappointing," said Darrah Winkler, marketing and events manager with the plaza, "not only for those visiting Channelside Bay Plaza and the Channelside district but also for all of those involved in the event."

Winkler said more than 5,000 people showed up at Channelside Bay Plaza alone to see the show, not to mention those watching from vantagae points around it. She would not say how much Pyrotecnico charged for the show but added that the plza operators are "confident we will make things right."

That's the plan, Liberatore said. The national company, founded in 1889 and headquartered in New Castle, Penn., puts on more than 750 shows each year between July 1 and July 4 and has been running shows at Channelside for more than a decade.

The company will at minimum give the organizers credit for the show and might offer a free show next time, Liberatore said.

"These issues don't happen often but when they do we make it right," he said.

The reaction from Twitter:

Contact Josh Solomon at [email protected] or (813) 909-4613. Follow @josh_solomon15.

     
 
Comments
Why wait? Time for Bucs fans to start missing Jameis Winston

Why wait? Time for Bucs fans to start missing Jameis Winston

NASHVILLE — Here in the land of love-sick country ballads where the dog dies, the pickup truck tires are slashed and somebody leaves a note on the way out of town, Bucs fans should already start missing Jameis Winston.Oh, he's not gone, gone, g...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Tom Jones’ Two Cents: Mixed bag for Bucs’ first teamers vs. Titans

Tom Jones’ Two Cents: Mixed bag for Bucs’ first teamers vs. Titans

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents while tuning in to the WFLA-Ch. 8 broadcast of Saturday night's Bucs-Titans preseason game.It's preseason. And it was just the second preseason game at that, so there's no reason to get too ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Bucs journal: When in doubt, keep throwing to Mike Evans

Bucs journal: When in doubt, keep throwing to Mike Evans

NASHVILLE — Coach Dirk Koetter joked last week that the Bucs' offense consisted mostly of throwing to WR Mike Evans.All kidding aside, it's not a bad plan.Evans is the most reliable weapon among the Bucs' corps of target-rich receivers. He prov...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Red Sox game

OF Carlos Gomez's overall numbers don't look like much (.215, 8 HRs), but he continues to do so many little things to help on and off the field. Saturday, he made a heads-up play by moving up from second to an uncovered third base on an infield pop-u...
Updated: 9 hours ago
New Rays catcher Michael Perez worth wait

New Rays catcher Michael Perez worth wait

BOSTON — If rookie catcher Michael Perez turns out to be as good as Rays officials think based on their initial reviews, they may thank Steven Souza Jr.Well, not Souza directly.But it was in the process of extensively and intensively scouting A...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays journal: Tyler Glasnow settles down to pitch well in loss

Rays journal: Tyler Glasnow settles down to pitch well in loss

BOSTON — RHP Tyler Glasnow looked so bad as he struggled through a 28-pitch first inning of the Rays' 5-2 loss to Boston that he knew enough to not look out to the bullpen, which was in action.But after allowing four runs — on two doubles...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Epilogue: Tampa’s Mother Teresa, Delia Sanchez, remembered as child welfare champion

Delia P. Sanchez collected things — purses, shoes, newspapers. She hid them away in a storage unit, out of sight from her tidy husband. She had her reasons. And not one of them was selfish. The extra accessories? Those were for the mothers of...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Woman dead after boyfriend shoots her once, returns and shoots again, deputies say

Woman dead after boyfriend shoots her once, returns and shoots again, deputies say

LARGO — A man faces a charge of murder after firing a shot at his girlfriend as she visited a travel trailer in Largo, fleeing the scene, then returning to the trailer and shooting her again a number of times, deputies said.Nathaniel J. Yates, 32, o...
Published: 08/18/18
Bucs defensive line had good days against Titans, but not good enough if it aims to be great

Bucs defensive line had good days against Titans, but not good enough if it aims to be great

NASHVILLE — The Bucs' new and improved defensive line has Pro Bowl players, Super Bowl winners and some high draft picks. But right now, they're more famous individually than collectively.For two practices, that's also how they played against t...
Published: 08/18/18

Girl, 6, found slain in her Albuquerque-area home has connections to Wimauma

The family of a 6-year-old girl found dead in New Mexico last weekend is trying to bring her remains to Wimauma.Court documents say the body of Ariana "Jade" Romeo was found at her home in Rio Rancho north of Albuquerque on bloody sheets with marijua...
Published: 08/18/18