McGinn hints at secret plan for July 4 fireworks

Days after it seemed the city would stay dark this Independence Day, Mayor Mike McGinn offered a cagey announcement indicating a deal may have been struck to keep July 4 booming.

As they have in years past, organizers of the annual Lake Union fireworks claimed they didn't have the money to put on the show. This year, though, show producer One Reel's pleas for funding went unanswered and they announced April 1 the show would not go on.

Tuesday, though, McGinn issued a vague but hopeful announcement indicating Seattle would have a fireworks show this Fourth of July.

Calling the show a "civic tradition," McGinn said he was disappointed by last week's announcement. McGinn went on to say he is "optimistic" that a fireworks show will be organized, but offered few details.

"I am delighted to announce that we are working with Seafair and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce to craft a new and sustainable plan for Fourth of July fireworks in Seattle," McGinn said in a statement Tuesday morning. "I am optimistic that we will indeed have fireworks this year in our city.

"I thank Seafair and the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce for their commitment to Seattle and for their leadership. We will announce more details soon."

McGinn's announcement came a week after One Reel revealed its effort to raise $500,000 had failed. A little more than $50,000 was raised, said One Reel spokeswoman Aubrey Bergaue, so the Lake Union show off Gas Works park would not go forward, even if big contributors came through later.

"This is final," she said. "At this point, we cannot produce a Lake Union fireworks show in 2013"

Organizers said the money had to be raised by the end of March so that suppliers for such items as security, fireworks and a tug and a barge, could be prepared for the show.

Typically, a 20-minute fireworks show costs roughly $150,000, and the additional funds are needed for permits, staffing, portable toilets and other event costs. One Reel staff said that since 2010, they have waived any net profit from the event and reduced the budget after it became clear the title-sponsor model isn't sustainable.

Problems with fireworks funding began in 2010 after the collapse of Washington Mutual. The bank had been the title sponsor for eight years, and JPMorgan Chase, which bought WaMu, stopped funding after the 2009 show.

That led to One Reel calling for a one-year hiatus - an "incredibly difficult" decision, CEO Toni Aspin said at the time. That brought a grassroots effort from KIRO-FM host Dave Ross and Seattle chef Tom Douglas, who solicited donations from Seattleites. Microsoft and Starbucks agreed to match $125,000 in donations, gaining more than $500,000 to save the fireworks show.

In 2011, the show was secured in May after $25,000 from Coca-Cola was teamed with financial support from several other businesses, including Microsoft, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Talking Rain, BECU, Charlie's Produce, Merrill Gardens, Taco Time and Smith Brothers Farms. There were more than 300 donations from companies and individuals overall.

But last year, the money difficulties continued and One Reel asked in May for additional event sponsors and tax-deductible donations. Substantial contributions had already come from Microsoft and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and Starbucks was the main sponsor.