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Pismo Beach braces for 100,000 attendees at annual Fourth of July event

Posted at 6:55 PM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 21:59:19-04

Preparations were underway Wednesday for the annual Fourth of July celebration in Pismo Beach, which draws thousands of people for a night of fireworks, food, and music.

For local businesses, the day of patriotism is also a boon for profits.

“Massive amounts of people, shoulder to shoulder inside, there’s crayons flying, kids flying, and food flying around, it’s pretty packed,” said Cool Cat Cafe server Curtis Gilbert.

A tornado of tourists ripped through the Cool Cat Cafe last year and Gilbert expects the same to happen Thursday.

City leaders anticipate 100,000 visitors will come to the beach for the holiday celebration.

For servers like Gilbert, the surge in customers is exhausting but well worth the payday.

“We probably like quadruple our tips. On a weekend like this, we make like $400,” Gilbert said.

Cool Cat Cafe is just one of the beneficiaries of this star-spangled tradition.

“We’ve been going every year since World War II,” said Pismo Beach Management Services Director Jorge Garcia.

The fireworks start at dark, around 9 p.m.

People can pay $50 for a meal and a seat on the pier for the fireworks display, which helps pay for the event.

Garcia said the patriotic party creates a windfall of about $1.5 million for the local service industry, which includes restaurants, hotels and gas stations.

“We’re classic California and that’s what people enjoy about our city,” Garcia said. “They like to experience the great weather we have, the natural beauty we have.”

To make it happen, the city ponies up about $25,000 for the fireworks show and $40,000 for public safety at the event.

“We do have a lot of alcohol citations and public intoxication, a few fights here and there, but the last few years have been really good,” said Pismo Beach Police Chief Jake Miller.

Miller also wants people to be aware of increased traffic, as well as the fines people face for illegal fireworks.

In Pismo Beach, people caught lighting unsanctioned fireworks face a $2,000 fine.

As tourists flood Pismo Beach, it’s not just the cash flow area businesses are looking forward to.

“It’s amazing how much community there is here in Pismo, how much everyone loves each other and takes care of each other,” Gilbert said.