continued "That's a $7 million system up there," Gillenberg says. "We'd be happy to use it, but it's cost-prohibitive."
Gillenberg insists Fireworks America has taken steps to reduce noise at the SeaWorld displays. "We don't use any salutes -- those are the shells that make a flash and a loud bang -- and we don't use any shells larger than six inches."
Fireworks shells, he says, can be as big as 24 inches in diameter. The bigger the shell, the more explosive powder it contains and the louder the bang it makes. By limiting the approximately 300 shells that are fired off each summer night at SeaWorld to six inches and smaller, Fireworks America limits the noise. Still, the source at Pyro Spectaculars says, "I've seen the SeaWorld show, and it's a little obnoxious. They have bigger shells than they really need. They could be more artistic and use fewer big shells, that's for sure. They could move the display in-park" -- SeaWorld's fireworks are launched from a barge floating on Hidden Cove, between the park and Fiesta Island -- "and go for smaller shells and a more artistic presentation instead of just lobbing big shells up there."
Reached by phone, David Koontz, communications director at SeaWorld, says there isn't room within the park for an in-park launch. And he stresses that the theme park complies with the city's regulations and Coastal Commission stipulations. Asked why the late hour for the display, he says, "The park is open in the summertime until 10:00 on weeknights, and it is open until 11:00 on Fridays and Saturdays. So the fireworks are basically the conclusion of our day, like at many parks. We are allowed to do fireworks no later than 10:00 on a day that precedes a workday. And then you can actually do them until 11:00 on a day that precedes a weekend day or a holiday. But all our fireworks are done by 10:00, whether it is a weekend day or a weekday."
As for Gutierrez and Brinkman's skittish greyhounds, SeaWorld has a solution to offer. "Because there are some people that say that fireworks frighten their pets," Koontz says, "a couple of years ago, we worked with a local guy who is sort of a dog-behavior expert and put together a CD, which is basically fireworks noise. You play it at home for your pet and you start to increase the volume. It is basically a desensitizing process."
Koontz says "anybody that asks for one" can obtain the compact disc by calling SeaWorld's PR department.