Big Bang on Bay raises money for autism on July 3


Emily Thornton had an interesting story on today’s Big Bang on the Bay on

“Kicking off Independence Day festivities a day early, as usual, is the Big Bang on the Bay.

“The event in the water, sky and land surrounding Alamitos Bay runs 5 to 10 p.m. Monday, July 3, and is presented by the Boathouse on the Bay. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Autism Partnership Foundation (APF). Last year, the event provided about $90,000 for Children Today.

“The biggest thing is we’re trying to bring the community together and continue to bring awareness,” APF project manager Julie Stiglich said. “It’ll help improve on treatments and continue our mission.”

 “That mission includes expanding supported, effective Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with research, improving service quality with training, and adding treatment availability to children and families, she said. The foundation also strives to provide more providers and educators, she added.

Those providers and educators are needed, she said. One in 68 children is diagnosed with ASD, or 1.5% of 8-year-olds nationwide, according to an Autism and Development Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) 2016 report.

“APF board of directors member Ron Leaf, who has helped those affected by autism for 45 years, said it was difficult to say how many people the Seal Beach-based foundation’s aided. But, he guessed about 10,000 have been helped since its beginning in 2008.

“We touch children in various ways,” Leaf said, noting the foundation’s interventions, consultations and more.

“That work takes money.

“Obviously, I’m pleased,” Leaf said of being the Big Bang on the Bay recipient. “Research and treatment is expensive, but it’s well worth it to us… Children with autism have amazing potential and we can help expand their areas of strength. A lot of times, they don’t get the treatment they need… This is our mission, to be able to do that.”

“Leaf said children often receive ineffective and/or life-risking treatment, but the foundation uses applied behavior analysis treatment, which has been shown to be most effective.

“That’s really the kind of thing teachers do,” Leaf said. “We work hard at that.”

“Getting the Big Bang on the Bay party started will be a street party at 5 p.m., with an outside bar open until 8:45 p.m. At 6 p.m., Naples Rib Company will cater a barbecue dinner for the block party and Boathouse will cater a deck and dining room meal.

“While people eat and socialize, the Golden Stars Skydiving Team Jumpers — Steven Bidd, Jay Fragoso, Darryld Light and Trevor Thompson — will fly through the air. Bidd — team captain, retired L.A. County Sheriff, Marines and U.S. Air Force veteran — will carry an 84-foot-long rainbow-colored streamer. Fragoso — U.S. Army Korean War veteran — will show the POW/MIA flag. Light — skydiving instructor, organizer and coach — will have the American flag. Thompson — former Navy SEAL, Operation Enduring Freedom veteran, and Navy parachute team member — also will jump.

“Around the same time, Long Beacher Zach Everson, Judy and Tom Everson’s grandson, will sing the National Anthem.

“A North American SNJ-5 duet flyover by John Collver and Brad Lang will take over the skies at 7:10 p.m., followed by a Van Wagner aerial advertising airplane towing “Old Glory,” with Everson singing “God Bless America.”

“The sailing regatta enters the bay at 7:20 p.m. and finishes at the Boathouse, followed by the Torrance-based Tiger Squadron flyover, led by Craig Ekberg, at 7:25 p.m. The planes are privately-owned Korean-era Nanchangs and Yaks.

“An aerial tribute to military members who didn’t return, “The Missing Man formation,” will take place at 7:30 p.m. At the same time, the 100-foot fireworks barge will enter the bay.

“DJ Ron will get people dancing in the street at 7:45 p.m. as the sun sets at 8:08 p.m. A two-minute sample fireworks warning will be given at 8:58 p.m., with the Big Bang at 9 p.m. After the approximately 20-minute show, DJ Ron will serenade the crowd until closing.

“Block party dinner and dancing tickets are $50 per person, and $20 for those age 10 and younger. VIP tables for 10 also are available. Visit to purchase.

“Boathouse indoor seating tickets are $65 and patio admission is $100. For more information and tickets, visit

Emily Thornton can be reached at

Emily is a staff writer covering higher education and other various topics for Gazette Newspapers. She has a background in weekly and daily newspapers and a bachelor’s in communication from La Sierra University.


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