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Park area to close for fireworks

The Police and Fire departments will enforce private fireworks ban, as well as no drinking or smoking on the beaches.

June 30, 2011|By Barbara Diamond, coastlinepilot@latimes.com

Fireworks will light up the sky over Laguna Beach on the Fourth of July, thanks to donations collected by local real estate agents and matching funds from the city.

Large crowds are expected to watch the 9 p.m. show, which will be centered around the newly renovated Monument Point in Heisler Park. However, the public won't get a front-row seat due to safety precautions. The area, including the south end of Picnic Beach and the north section of Rockpile Beach, will be closed to the public Monday.

"A section of the park will be closed to meet fireworks laws," said Deputy Fire Chief Jeff LaTendresse. "The law requires a 70-foot space per-inch of shells. We will be using 5-inch shells so we need 350 lineal feet from the ignition site."

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The park will be closed from the Rock Bench at Myrtle Street to North Main Beach, below the Gazebo, and the Rockpile Beach stairs at 5 p.m. when preparations begin.

"The closed areas will remain closed until the fireworks company has cleaned up and vacated it," City Manager John Pietig said. "And we will comply with the requirements of the permit issued for the fireworks by the San Diego Regional Water Quality Board."

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Donations helped fund show

Laguna's fireworks show brings thousands of visitors to town; however, the pyrotechnics are also popular with locals, enough so that when the city cut the show from the 2010 budget, donations poured in. The Laguna Board of Realtors spearheaded the effort, which raised enough to pay for that show and half of this year's show.

Fireworks were included in the 2011-12 draft budget, an estimated $28,000 expense.

"Barring more donations, the city will pay for it," Pietig said.

He added that the expense is justified as a deterrent to private fireworks and that the show serves the community.

No other fireworks are allowed in Laguna Beach. The Police and Fire departments said they will strictly enforce the law.

Also, alcohol and smoking are prohibited on the beaches, but an alcohol permit for Heisler Park may be obtained at the Community Services Department, 515 Forest Ave.

City laws prohibit tents and similar structures, and barbecues on beaches and in parks. Dogs are banned from beaches from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Sept. 16.

The city also cautions that due to the expected increase in traffic. City trolleys will stop running at 7 p.m.

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Dogs at risk

Pet owners are advised to be particularly watchful as the Fourth of July nears because some dogs panic with the noise and lights.

"A lot of pet owners tranquilize their dogs, which is easy and effective," said veterinarian James A. Levin, owner of Laguna Beach Animal Hospital.

There is an alternative, said Levin, who has a golden retriever especially sensitive to sound.

"I put my dogs in the bathroom where they can't see the lights outside and turn a radio on to a rock 'n' roll station really loud," Levin said

Dogs are known to bolt in an attempt to get away from the noise and lights. If they get hit by a car, they may not get medical attention fast enough.

"My cousin's German shorthair jumped the wall at my house while we were out," Levin said. "It was hit by a car and was picked up at 7:30 p.m. By the time I got home at 10 p.m., the car was still in town, caught in traffic"

Levin was able to get the dog to his hospital and care for it.

Cats don't seem to have the same reaction to fireworks as dogs, he said.

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