Sag Harbor Chamber Files Police Report Over Drone Show

The Fiery Sensations perform in Steinbeck Park during this year's HarborFrost on Saturday. Michael Heller photo

Board members with the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce filed a police report on Tuesday after the producer of a planned drone light show for the Chamber’s 10th annual HarborFrost winter festival failed to attend the event, despite receiving payment.

Shortly after Chamber leadership met with Sag Harbor Village Police on Tuesday morning, the owner of the Drone Light Show Company, David Oneal, after being contacted for comment by this newspaper, began corresponding with Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Field about how to return payment to the Chamber, citing an inability to secure FAA permits for the light show prior to the event.

According to a statement issued by the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, the Chamber paid the Drone Light Show Company a total of $8,000 to put on a drone light show on Saturday, February 29. The show was to replace the annual winter fireworks, which were cancelled due to renovations of Long Wharf.

“When the drone company failed to arrive at the event on Saturday, we were forced to cancel the show,” Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Field said. “All legal avenues are being pursued at this time.”

“Otherwise, this year’s HarborFrost celebration was the most attended in the event’s history,” Ms. Field continued. “We are extremely grateful to our volunteers who made the day so much fun for all, and our local businesses appreciate the support of everyone who came to celebrate winter in Sag Harbor.”

With about 300 people waiting for the drone show, the Chamber announced its cancellation Saturday night due to the weather. “At the time something needed to be said and we really didn’t know what was going on since we couldn’t reach the company and didn’t have the answers,” said Ms. Field. “We thought the weather might be a reason for the delay.”

When communication with the company failed, the Chamber Board of Directors agreed Monday night to pursue all of its legal options.

On Tuesday, Mr. Oneal responded to a request for comment stating, “Unfortunately, the permits needed for the event were not able to be secured in the time we thought they would be. A full refund will be issued as we could not perform without the permits.”

The Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce did secure permits for HarborFrost, including the drone light show, through the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees, but Mr. Oneal said he also needed permits from the FAA, which did not approve the event in the timeframe needed. Mr. Oneal said he planned to wire the funds or pay the Chamber back via check, “depending on their desire” and via email confirmed with Ms. Field he would return the funds to the Chamber via a certified check.

An internet search on Mr. Oneal, who is also listed as affiliated with Wildly Creative Marketing, details a number of news stories and social media posts detailing other drone light shows where the company allegedly failed to show up at the event.