By Evan Young
Originally Published on: 2009-07-01
The question of who owns the name of an annual south county fireworks show was the subject of a short-lived legal spat last week involving St. Louis County, one of its former councilmen and the company previously behind the production of that show.
The county filed suit June 23 against former Sixth District Councilman John Campisi, R-south county, and Twilight Fire and Illusions for allegedly interfering with preparations for “JB Blast 2009,” a patriotic celebration scheduled Friday.
Campisi and Twilight were told to take down a Web site, www.jbblast.org, which featured on its home page a statement announcing the cancellation of “JB Blast 2009.” The site also displayed the St. Louis County logo and listed Campisi as the Sixth District councilman.
The site was the online headquarters of “JB Blast Inc.,” a nonprofit entity Campisi created while in office to solicit private donations to both put on the celebration and raise money for area organizations.
Last year, the organization collected donations for the Fisher House, a support program for military families.
Campisi, who took office in 2001, lost his County Council seat to Steve Stenger, D-south county, in last November’s election, but says he still owns the “JB Blast” name.
“JB Blast Inc.” posted the cancellation announcement after it learned the county was planning to conduct the event under the “JB Blast” name, Campisi said. He said he believed his organization would be held responsible if something went wrong during the celebration, such as a fireworks malfunction, and the county didn’t have insurance to cover it.
The purpose of the statement, then, was to make it known the organization did not approve of this year’s event and was not collecting donations for it, Campisi said.
However, Campisi and Twilight agreed June 25 to remove the Web site — shortly before a court hearing on whether to issue a temporary restraining order against the defendants.
The county agreed to take responsibility for this year’s event, which has solicited donations through an entity named “South County JB Blast,” Stenger said.
Stenger told the Call last week he considers the suit “resolved,” but said he wasn’t buying his predecessor’s arguments.
Campisi had “months and months and months” of notice that his organization would have no part in this year’s festivities, and therefore concerns over liability were unjustifiable, Stenger said.
Furthermore, he said, the event doesn’t belong to one person or group — it’s owned by the people of St. Louis County.
The celebration began in 2000, the creation of then-councilman Jeff Wagener.
Campisi said at the time it was referred to as the “Jefferson Barracks fireworks show.”
The incumbent Sixth District councilman has handled the preparations since then.
Campisi said “JB Blast Inc.” would remain active and possibly stage a fireworks show for another municipality in the future. It would also continue to raise money for organizations that need it, he said.
This year’s “Blast” festivities begin at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Veterans Memorial Amphitheater in Jefferson Barracks Historic Park, 533 Grant Road.
The event is free and, along with the fireworks show, will feature live music by the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America’s Hot Brass. Burgers, hot dogs, sno-cones, soft drinks and other food will be available for purchase. Guests also are welcome to bring their own refreshments and coolers, as well as lawn chairs and blankets.
Event sponsors include Stenger, County Executive Charlie Dooley, the South County Chamber of Commerce, the St. Louis County Parks and Recreation Department and St. Louis County Police Department.
For more information, contact the parks department at (314) 615-7275.