By ERIK CHALHOUB, Managing Editor
I figured I would show up an hour or so after the gates opened at the Watsonville Municipal Airport for the first-ever Fire in the Sky open house last week.
Turns out, I almost missed my chance to park, and perhaps, miss the show entirely. Long before the fireworks show started, the airport had to turn away vehicles, as the parking lot had reached capacity.
A great problem to have if you’re an organizer of the event, as all the months of planning would have been for naught had nobody shown up. And the $10 per vehicle (estimated at 1,500 vehicles) certainly doesn’t hurt either.
The show itself was a treat, and lasted longer than I had expected. This was long overdue for Watsonville, a city that is so starved for such an experience that residents take to the streets to create their own every year.
Unfortunately, though, the event only seemed mildly successful in capping the number of illegal fireworks displays throughout the city. Watsonville Police estimated 51 calls for illegal fireworks during the night, down from 75 in 2016, and those were just the ones reported. As the daylight dimmed, Watsonville sounded like a warzone, as puny but loud fireworks exploded in the air both in and outside city limits.
But where Fire in the Sky was hugely successful was getting people to the airport and checking out its operations. Airport Manager Rayvon Williams mentioned to me that he was very happy with the number of people who told him that they had never stepped foot inside the airport before Tuesday night.
Here’s hoping Fire in the Sky returns next year. It will certainly be a tall task to make it bigger and better, as people now have expectations.
Friday night I could be found at the California Grill’s bar (drinking water, of course) for an after-work gathering. I will admit that this was actually the first time I visited the restaurant’s new Penny Lane location, even though it’s been open for months, and I must give a shout-out to the great service from the staff, including co-owner Dick Peixoto, who stopped by our group and every other table to chat.
I hadn’t visited the location since it was Green Valley Grill more than a decade ago, during a senior night for my high school.
Just like the fireworks on Tuesday night, California Grill was booming with customers. Let’s hope Watsonville can continue its upward momentum.
Erik Chalhoub can be reached at 761-7353 or [email protected]