83ºF

Fireworks company fizzles for second holiday show, Apopka mayor says

Company promises show after failed July 4 event, doesn't deliver -- again

APOPKA, fla. – After a failed Fourth of July fireworks show, residents of Apopka were expecting a Labor Day event to be put on by Creative Pyrotechnics, but the company failed to deliver again, according to the city's mayor.

Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson said the fireworks company said it would provide the city a full refund and a show on Labor Day after it canceled the July 4 event, blaming weather and staffing issues. 

The show still went on, and Facebook posts showed residents enjoying the fireworks show Sunday night, but the mayor said it was not a result of Creative Pyrotechnics' work, and that the company did not come through with its promise.

After Nelson initially reached out to company officials a few days after July 4 and hadn't heard back for weeks, he said he was forced to hire another company, Zambelli Fireworks, to put on the Labor Day show promised to the residents of Apopka.

"We reached out to them on a couple of occasions by phone and left messages on their work office phone and reached out to them by email and never got a response," Nelson said.

When Creative Pyrotechnics finally reached out to him Wednesday, Nelson said it was too late.

"...all of a sudden he calls me back and says, 'Hey can we set up Saturday night and park our RV there?' and I go, 'We've already moved on,'" Nelson said. 

[PREVIOUS: 'We were stretched thin:' Fireworks company apologizes for shows being duds | Fireworks fiasco after company fails to provide pyrotechnics across Florida]

Nelson said instead, the city used its event insurance to pay off the Fourth of July event, and thinks the insurance company will go after Creative Pyrotechnics to replenish the money.

"I think the event insurance company is probably going to sue him, so we kind of wonder if we got contacted by him on Wednesday afternoon, was that event insurance company has now contacted him about paying the $25,000," Nelson said. 

The Apopka event was one of four Fourth of July fireworks shows by Creative Pyrotechnics that were canceled in Florida. Fourth of July revelers in DeBary, St. Petersburg and Gulfport also went home without a fireworks show that night, prompting an apology from company officials later that week.

"We greatly apologize for coming out and not having a show to see," owner E.J. Weppel said in a phone interview. "It's very disappointing, obviously we've had a good track record for the last 10 plus years and we want to do our best to make it up and make it right for everyone."

That's when, in an attempt to make it right, Weppel offered the free Labor Day show to the cities affected, in addition to the $24,500 he promised to give back to the city of Apopka. His company made it up to the city of Gulfport by putting on a show later that week. He said the city of St. Petersburg denied his offer. 

Weppel specifically blamed storms for the Apopka July 4 cancellation, and explained that he had been short-staffed on what is the busiest holiday for his company.

The company still put on 10 shows across the state with a staff of about 50. 

"We were definitely stretched thin, I can say that much," Weppel said.

Even before the company let the city of Apopka down again, Nelson said he wouldn't use Creative Pyrotechnics next year.

"Boy, I tell ya it would be hard-pressed to say they would be at the top of my list for a pyrotechnics shows," Nelson said.

News 6 called the company Monday to ask about the Labor Day event, not knowing at first that the fireworks were put on by another company. Someone with the company answered the phone, said the event wasn't put on by them and hung up.

Creative Pyrotechnics was in charge of putting on the July 4 firework show in the city of Winter Springs. The Park and Recreational director said that show went off perfectly and they will be using Creative Pyrotechnics again.

Nelson said that one way or another, he's sure the situation will be handled, and even though rain still played a role in Sunday's forecast, he was happy the residents of Apopka got a fireworks show after all.

"We got a lot of attention from folks so we had a lot of people who came out to be a part of it and everything we heard was positive," Nelson said. "So, thank you to Apopka. Thanks to everyone who came out and for everyone who put it together."

[WATCH BELOW: Fireworks show in Apopka lights up sky ahead of Labor Day]


About the Author: