Want one of these T-shirts? 20 bucks.
  • Want one of these T-shirts? 20 bucks.
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Last year, the City of Imperial Beach didn't fund fire works and initially had planned not to have the celebration in 2014 or 2015. But then Candy Unger and Tim O'Neal formed “I heart IB" and started pounding the pavement to raise money.

Unger and O'Neal have pledged to come up with $25,000 to pay half the cost of the fireworks — and last week, the city council voted to sign a contract with an Alpine-based fireworks outfit to put on the show.

"We have raised $13,233, not including money from our T-shirt sales," Unger said. "They're $20. I have all sizes in white…the blue ones are on back-order."

So far, T-shirts have added about $1000 toward the goal, she said. The group also has donation cans in three dozen locations throughout I.B. Unger said one of the cans was stolen from a 7-Eleven and the store manager asked the group to remove another one out of worry that it, too, would be nabbed.

"The cans raise about $100 a week, but we found if you personally take one door-to-door you can raise about $100 an hour," Unger said. She is now urging people to consider collecting donations. "It's crunch time, and I'm getting nervous.”

The group has a fundraising event on June 23, when Sea180 Coastal Tavern will donate 15 percent of its proceeds from guest tabs to the fireworks effort.

"You have to present the flyer [from the website] to your waitress for us to be included," Unger said.

The city has also agreed to pay $5000 to Tin Fish, the restaurant at the end of the pier, so they can close for 36 hours without losing revenue and so the pyrotechnics crews can use the pier to launch and clean up afterward.

I.B. mayor Jim Janney said the council voted to commit to the costs last week even though all the money hasn't been raised yet.

"The timing was so short that we went ahead and signed the contract," Janney said.

The city's $25,000 contract with Pyrotechnic Spectaculars, Inc., pays for 17 to 18 minutes of flash that will include the detonation of 2277 devices — including 367 in the grand finale, according to contract notes.

Per the contract, the city is responsible for getting a permit from the State Water Resources Board. The permit, insurance, and public safety costs will run to about $25,000, Janney said.

In May of last year, the San Diego County Grand Jury concluded after an audit that the city's spending and accounting practices were such that Imperial Beach needed "to take strong action to get their financial house in order."

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