Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Restaurateurs rescue Tarpon's July Fourth fireworks

TARPON SPRINGS — A month ago, it looked like residents would have to leave the city to watch fireworks this Independence Day.

Enter Tarpon Springs resident Dave Ulgenalp.

On Friday, Ulgenalp and his wife, Lisa, donated $18,000 to fund the annual fireworks display at Fred Howard Park.

"How do you celebrate the Fourth of July without fireworks? What's the first thing that comes to mind with the Fourth? It's fireworks," said Dave Ulgenalp, 49.

The couple, along with Mike and Sally Schmidt, own and operate bd's Mongolian Grill, which has locations in Oldsmar, Lakeland and Altamonte Springs.

The restaurant was able to make the donation after a busy Memorial Day weekend, which Ulgenalp attributed to a larger number of residents staying in town for the holiday this year.

Customers tell him they're not going anywhere over the next long holiday weekend, either.

"Talking with our friends, it's amazing how many people are sticking around for the Fourth instead of heading out of town," Ulgenalp said.

Mayor Beverley Billiris said she's hearing similar stories from residents.

"I think we are going to have a larger turnout locally with our local businesses," Billiris said. "I think families are going to stay home."

Commissioners decided in early May to forgo fireworks this summer, choosing instead to use money budgeted for the event to repair and relocate the city's emergency AM radio station, which has been inoperable for several months.

Two weeks later, a communications company donated $5,000 to the city, which commissioners agreed to use for a "patriotic picnic" to be held during the day at Craig Park on Spring Bayou, in lieu of the annual fireworks.

That event will go on as planned, said interim City Manager Mark LeCouris.

Residents will have time to attend the picnic before heading out to Howard Park for the fireworks, LeCouris said.

Once the Ulgenalps came forward with the donation Friday, staff was able to sign Melrose Pyrotechnics to run the show.

Rita Farlow can be reached at (727) 445-4162 or

>>If you go

In the park

The Patriotic Picnic in the Park will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 4 at Craig Park on Spring Bayou.

Fireworks can be viewed from Fred Howard Park, 1700 Sunset Drive, at dusk July 4.

Restaurateurs rescue Tarpon's July Fourth fireworks 06/03/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 5, 2008 1:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics


    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.