Show Me the Money – Part II – Where Did the Street Fair Money Go?

by on July 11, 2009 · 7 comments

in Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego

The rockets’ red glare is gone. The echoes of the bombs bursting in air have faded. The volleys of  marshmallows have been put to rest for  another year. It’s time for an accounting. Where did all the money go?

At the risk of tainting the innocent pleasure that our fireworks bring  to the happy hordes of revelers that flock to our little beach town on this holiday I’m going to tell you what they cost.

Twenty five grand. $25,000.

In the span of time that it takes to have a leisurely stroll to the end of the pier and back twenty five thousand dollars was launched into the sky to bring a climax to a local tradition that is now 30 years old.

This display is brought to you by the revenues generated by the annual OB Street Fair. While a healthy chunk of change was raked in, it took a lot of bucks to pull it off.

The first chunk of change goes to the city of San Diego. Right around $1600.00 goes for the permits to use the parking lot s on SeaWorld Drive and the Robb Field parking lot.

There is a special event permit and, in order to get the permit it’s necessary to show that there will be a whole lot of security. That means $20,800 to the police and fire department and, another $4,000 for private security.

Then there’s clean up. You show me 70,000 happy fair goers and the food they consume and I’ll show you a lot of sticky streets and sidewalks. It costs $2,800 to do the job right. By doing it right I mean that all the water used is captured and recycled. Nothing goes down the storm drains.

If you want the hungry hordes to show up you have to advertise. In all fairness to City Beat, The Beacon & Sophie FM 103.7 they gave us great discounted rates but, it still cost somewhere around $8,000 to 9,000.

Of course the gave terrific coverage at NO COST WHATSOEVER and was glad to do it.

Once the hungry hordes were satiated with food and drink they wanted to be entertained and entertained they were!

37 local bands and musicians worked 5 stages and they played their hearts out all day long. The bands were great and again, in all fairness to the musicians, they gave us terrific rates. Still, a whole lot of well deserved dollars were forked out to the bands.

Along with the bands come sound systems, stages, stage hands (many of them locals), electricians (local), banners, programs, T shirts (Thank you James Gang) and transportation.

Then there’s the not so glamorous stuff like portapotties, a crew to keep the trash under control, another crew to keep the tables and chairs clean and, a recycling crew.

The insurance for this one day event costs in the ballpark of $3,000.

After all the checks have been written and, if everything has gone very well, there is some left over and that goes towards steam cleaning the sidewalks, emptying the trash containers (the City doesn’t do it), maintain the landscaping (The City wanted $15,000 to repair an irrigation system. Local plumber did it for $2,000), replacing trash can lids and painting out graffiti along with a lot of other little stuff.

Why do all this work for a 30 minute firework display? After all, we can see fireworks on just about any given night of the year if we look towards SeaWorld around 9:50 pm.

Well the OB show is more than a firework display. Ask any of the dozens of devoted volunteers who work insane hours without complaint and they’ll tell you that our fireworks are part of our identity. Events like this marry the residents to the community. It’s money well spent.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

BillRayDrums July 10, 2009 at 11:52 pm

What a great article, Gary. Thanks to everyone for all the hard work.


annagrace July 11, 2009 at 8:31 am

Great article Gary. Didja know that we taxpayers are still subsidizing special event police at Petco Park and Qualcom? They have contracts with the City to receive these services- I don’t whether at no charge or at deeply discounted rates. OBMA however, and every other community group gets to suck up the full price for special event coverage. This inequality is on the City Council radar and it will be interesting to see if the contract is modified before it expires.


fstued July 11, 2009 at 11:39 am

thanks Gary for letting us all know good times aren’t free Maybe your popping our bubble but it is stuff we need to know It takes a village to make a community but it takes cash to make it all work
Thanks great job


lane tobias July 11, 2009 at 5:06 pm

definitely never think about all the associated costs…but I have to say the OB fireworks are pretty damn good.

kudos to the OB Rag for all the free advertising!!ha

good job laying it all out for us!


BillRayDrums July 12, 2009 at 1:27 am

Since this is an article about the street fair and my band Skirt Alert played there ( I thought it would be in good stead to post some audio from a Winston’s show SA did on June 9.

If you are a fan of live music from obscure bands, consider this website a gift. If you’re a deadhead and don’t know about this site, you have about 7000 new shows to check out.

So much for productivity huh….


Joanna Schiele July 15, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Thanks for Part II Gary! Just one little thing I want to clear is that Radio Sophie FM 103.7 did not receive any money from the OBMA for the OB Street Fair and Chili Cook-Off. They were a Sponsor and unlike some other media outlets, worked with us purely on trade for Social Media publicity, logo placement and booth space. They gave away really cool things to people who stopped at their booth like tickets to the IMAX theater and fun schwag.


James February 13, 2011 at 6:24 am

I love Ocean Beach


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