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Fourth of July fireworks canceled in St. Petersburg, cut short in Tampa

SCOTT KEELER |Times Fireworks light up the night over Boca Ciega Bay near South Pasadena, St. Pete Beach, and Treasure Island. The view is looking north.
Published Jul. 5, 2018

Families and friends celebrating Independence Day on Wednesday were less than thrilled about what the soggy Tampa Bay area had to offer in terms of fireworks.

The show scheduled to light up downtown St. Petersburg was canceled due to what the city called "technical difficulties." Across the bay in downtown Tampa, some tweeted complaints that the fireworks display over the Riverwalk was cut short. And rain forced officials to postpone Gulfport's fireworks show until Thursday night at 9.

"We were disappointed when it rained a little bit," said Jessica Duria, 28, from a park bench near Al Lang Stadium.

She came there to watch fireworks over the bay with friends and her 2-year-old son, Rigby, asleep in a stroller. She said she knew the show must have been canceled when she arrived to see groups of people walking away from the waterfront, and took cover beneath the entryway of the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club.

"Due to technical difficulties, we unfortunately have to cancel our fireworks show tonight," said a tweet posted by the city about 9:45 p.m. "We hope everyone enjoyed their #4thofJuly2018 festivities throughout the day."

Another tweet posted soon after: "At this time, there is no rain date scheduled. Again, we apologize for the inconvenience caused by the vendor's technical difficulties."

Fireworks scheduled to start at 9 p.m. over the Tampa Riverwalk garnered bad reviews online. It was the same case on July 4 last year, when a computer glitch interrupted the grand finale, leaving the show's audience underwhelmed.

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

"Well 9:19 and still no fireworks," a Twitter user named Jeff Reese tweeted. "Way to fail two years in a row Tampa."

"I can't believe how bad the fireworks were," said another tweet by a user named Karusha. "Tampa should be ashamed. I've never seen such a poor display."

Someone from Beach Park went on neighborhood social networking site Next Door to question why a city as large as Tampa has trouble executing fireworks shows.

"For a major city like Tampa, I don't understand why the 4th of July fireworks are so underwhelming each year in downtown," the poster wrote. "Anyone know why?"

Many complained that the show started early without any public notice, and others said it only lasted five minutes. Some, who presumably hadn't yet heard about the cancellation across the bay, threatened to go to the show in St. Petersburg next year instead.

"St Pete didn't even have any," one user wrote in response to one of those people. "Tampa Bay area does the worst 4th July fireworks seriously pathetic."

Contact Megan Reeves at mreeves@tampabay.com. Follow @mareevs.

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