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Local fireworks company that failed to provide July 4 shows files for bankruptcy

Creative Pyrotechnics still owes City of Apopka, DeBary thousands

APOPKA, Fla. – A fireworks company contracted with several Central Florida cities has filed for bankruptcy months after it failed to provide Fourth of July shows in several Florida cities.

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy documents were recently filed in the Southern District of Florida.

Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson said attendees at the city's holiday show were disappointed when Creative Pyrotechnics couldn't put on a show there or at three other cities across the state.

"They were the ones who were supposed to have done our 4th of July show. They didn't perform," Nelson said. 

It was the same story in DeBary where the city officials there said weather contributed to the show failing.

The City of DeBary showed pictures of flooded out fireworks in an area the city manager told News 6 in which they weren't permitted to be. 

Days later, EJ Weppel, the owner of Creative Pyrotechnics, apologized and promised a make up Labor Day show. 

"We greatly apologize for coming out and not having a show to see," Weppel said in July.

Six months later, Weppel has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In the filings, it shows he owes money to about 30 entities, including the City of Apopka for $24,5000 and the City of DeBary for $10,000. 

On Wednesday, Nelson said that the money owed was because Weppel didn't do the make-up Labor Day show

"The day or two before he finally calls and said, 'Hey, where are we going to set up?' and I go, 'You haven't contacted us within the last 60 days. We couldn't count on you to show up, so we hired somebody else,'" Nelson said. 

Nelson said event insurance covered the loss of the nearly $25,000. 

"He never paid us back, no," Nelson added. 

In the City of DeBary, the city manager said in December that the council would consider giving Creative Pyrotechnics a second chance for a job well done in years past. 

"Anytime we are dealing with small businesses particularly, my preference is to try to reconcile rather than punish," City Manager Ron McLemore said. 

However, Wednesday after the news of the filling was sent to the city, DeBary's Mayor Karen Chasez said they will be parting ways with the company. 

"DeBary had a settlement agreement with the firm based on the July 4, 2018, cancellation. With the bankruptcy, they have not been able to perform under that agreement. The city will pursue any available remedies through the bankruptcy processed but is issuing a RFP (Request for Proposal) to select a new vendor for the fireworks show planned for July 4, 2019," Chasez wrote in a statement to News 6. 

An attorney representing Creative Pyrotechnics also released a statement Wednesday, saying this Chapter 11 bankruptcy doesn't mean the company is going out of business. 

"A Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a reorganization bankruptcy used by businesses to repay creditors in an orderly fashion. It's business as usual for Creative Pyrotechnics and the ATF license is active and our belief is that it will remain active," said Dana Kaplan, attorney for Creative Pyrotechnics. 

Click here to read the bankruptcy filing.


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