Drone show remains possibility for Independence Day 2021

Sequim city councilors ask staff to explore funding, fireworks options

A Fourth of July celebration next year remains a possibility in the City of Sequim as city councilors and staff continue to explore options including the idea to bring back a popular illuminated drone show.

What direction the city will go in, how much a celebration could cost and other variables remain to be determined.

Councilors asked the city’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC), a five-person committee of hotels, bed and breakfasts and tourism officials, to discuss funding a July 4, 2021, drone show with some of its funds from hotel/motel taxes.

But on June 8 the committee recommended keeping the drone show a part of the new Sequim Sunshine Festival, which held its first event in March.

Barbara Hanna, Sequim’s communications and marketing director, said at Monday’s city council meeting the LTAC recognized the importance of observing the Fourth of July, but saw the drone show as an anchor for the Sunshine Festival.

“(LTAC) funds can only be used from the recommendation of (the committee),” she said. “We’re going to have to make a decision on 2021 by September at the latest for the Sunshine Festival. If there are too many unknowns, we may come back strong in 2022.”

An estimated $46,410 cost for next year’s proposed July 4 show from Firefly Drone Shows of Waterford, Mich., would bring back 100 illuminated drones for a 15-minute personalized, choreographed show.

The city paid $32,800 plus hotel rooms in March because of its time of year and other factors.

Council input

Councilor Dennis Smith made the suggestion for a July 4 drone show earlier this year and said he still supports a show in 2021 on Independence Day.

“I’m still in favor of doing it, wherever the money comes from,” he said.

Smith said one of his “primary drivers” for putting on an event came after city councilors voted to ban fireworks.

“If you’re going to ban fireworks, then put on a firework show as a community thing,” he said.

City residents agreed in an advisory vote to ban the discharge of fireworks in November 2016, with 65.6 percent in favor with city councilors passing the ban soon afterward.

The city could host its own fireworks display, and does allow up to four fireworks booths to sell Washington state-approved fireworks in city limits from June 28-July 5.

Councilor Brandon Janisse, council liaison on LTAC, said he sympathized with those seeking a Fourth of July celebration, but said, “If we’re going to continue to support the Sunshine Festival then we need to leave it as is — even with as much as I’d like to see it on the Fourth of July.”

City councilors Troy Tenneson and Sarah Kincaid supported a Fourth of July celebration of some sort next year. Tenneson suggested getting a bid from a fireworks company to add more options.

City Manager Charlie Bush said a Fourth of July celebration could be included in the 2021 budget. If councilors opt for a fireworks display instead of a drone show, they could also bring a funding request back to LTAC, he said.

Hanna said city staff will discuss options, and Bush plans to bring ideas back up at the next city council meeting on July 13.

Fireworks reminder

While fireworks can’t be discharged in city limits, residents in unincorporated Clallam County are allowed to use legal consumer fireworks noon-11 p.m. Friday, June 28, 9 a.m.-11 p.m. June 29-July 3, 9 a.m.-midnight July 4 and 9 a.m.-11 p.m. July 5.