Dear Editor – Does Fake Turf Mean No Fireworks?

A very persistent rumor I am hearing is that the wonderful, unneeded new astroturf being installed at Culver High as soon as school is out is “not properly fire resistant” and will mandate cancelling the annual fireworks show. This is of course, despite being able to launch them from the baseball diamond or another location. But it does raise some significant concerns if true:

1) How in the world is installing a non-fireworks safe turf supposed to make us feel good about the safety of the product? Several professional sports teams have launched fireworks in domed stadiums or with outside turf fields- without any incident.

2) Why exactly is this turf necessary? The argument is water savings, but from a cost standpoint, how many years would it take to pay for the equivalent water and maintenance? Artificial turf needs different kinds of maintenance, but it does require some.

3) There have been multiple studies correlating increased use of turf with higher injury rates due to the harder nature of the surface, among other factors. We are in a warm weather climate with cool misty mornings- not something that normally leads to turf use at the expense of our children’s physical wellbeing.

4) And if they are cancelling the fireworks, why in the world is this not up for debate at the School Board or City Council? This impacts multiple neighborhoods, not just the school, and should be a significant source of outrage.

The story may not be true- despite multiple sources, but I do know that turf has been under discussion, and the reasons for it come across as very flimsy.

Kevin Klowden

The Actors' Gang


  1. Not sure about the fireworks issue — but at the school board meetings I attended, the cost, maintenance, and health concerns of astroturf – and the cost and bidding of the sports complex project as a whole – were brought up by a number of parents and quickly dismissed by all but Mr. Silbiger. It certainly seemed that Culver was champing at the bit to get this done. Attending the meetings can be pretty eye-opening.

  2. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks so much for your inquiry. The school board spent a lot of time reviewing and evaluating the value of turf and decided that it was not only a safe surface, but actually a MORE SAFE surface than grass because of the poor condition of our current fields and the potential for students to get seriously injured due to the potholes and uneven surfaces. If you would like to send along the referenced safety studies, I’d love to take a look at them. We are really excited about this project. To my knowledge, there has been no decision made to cancel the fireworks. Obviously, nothing is taking place on the fields this year because of the construction. But afterwards, the school district and exchange club will have to meet to discuss whether it is possible to hold this event at this location in future years. Finally, I want to address your last point about the way in which this decision was made. The board has been discussing this process repeatedly for most of the 3.5 years that I have been a member. Given the fact that the field is owned by the district, we have an obligation to do what is in the safety interest of our students, regardless of the impact on the city or other local entities. While we always welcome (and appreciate) public input, ultimately this is a board decision.

    Hope that answers your questions. If not please be in touch.

    Karlo Silbiger

  3. While I appreciate the safety concerns of Karlo Silbiger I’m a little surprised that the focus of the comment was on safety and not the real issue which is money. Why is the grass field less safe? Because the money isn’t there to keep it up properly. Period.

    I’m not saying that saving money isn’t a benefit, even though the initial outlay is quite expensive, but just playing the ‘safety card’ is disingenuous. As a matter of fact it’s a bit insulting.

    By the way, the fireworks WERE canceled this year which is how I came to this post in the first place. A tradition I’ve enjoyed for many years won’t take place this year.

    And something tells me that we won’t see another fireworks display out of Culver City in the future either.

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