Funding for the fireworks portion of the Red, White and Tahoe Blue festival was approved Thursday by the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA) board, although it hinted the festival needs better organization in the future.
Washoe County denied the 4-day Incline Village outdoor festival a business license in June because organizers didn’t provide proper documentation for required conditions associated with all events. For instance, it lacked a safety plan and a traffic and parking plan, among others.
The festival appealed the county’s decision and requested reconsideration, specifically for its fireworks show and events directly related to the July 4 show. County commissioners this week approved the fireworks and related events.
RSCVA chairman Bob Lucey said the event is important to the region and that many who attend Red, White and Tahoe Blue also venture into the Reno area and vice versa. The financial request is unusual but is due to leadership changes within the festival, he said.
“This recent year has come under some challenges,” said Lucey, who is also a county commissioner. “The previous executive director of the event was asked to leave about 4 months ago and when that individual left, they left the organization in kind of a challenging place. They were short funding and didn’t have a lot of organization left. They’ve found themselves challenged with the ability to fund the event.”
RSCVA executive director Phil DeLone suggested the board provide the festival $25,000 to be used for fireworks only, not to pay off past debt or to be reserved for future events.
“To Incline Village’s credit, they rarely come forward and ask for our help,” DeLone said. “Regardless of the back story, this event takes place in 6 days and they need us to come to the table and help them.”
The fireworks show, including permitting, a barge and services from the Washoe County Sheriff, will cost about $110,000, although the price tag for the entire event is much higher. According to the festival website, it’s raised about $92,000 as of Thursday.
Andy Chapman, Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau president, assured RSCVA board members that funds would go only toward fireworks. His organization is also putting $10,000 toward the fireworks.
Chapman said the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino has agreed to cover any costs unpaid after 90 days.
RSCVA board member Nat Carasali said helping Red, White and Tahoe Blue might set a precedent, prompting Reno and Sparks to ask for financial assistance for various desires.
Lucey said the board voted to kick in funds for upgrading the Reno Arch in 2016 and for some new signs in Sparks last year. RSCVA’s contribution to each was about $90,000.