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How Ripon, Manteca pay for aerial fireworks

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POSTED June 12, 2014 1:15 a.m.

How much does a city fork out for a dazzling Fourth of July fireworks aerial show?

Manteca uses part of proceeds from a city fireworks stand manned each year by the Manteca Police Officers Association at Union Road and Yosemite Avenue to pay for the community aerial fireworks. Admission to Fourth of July activities that day at the Big League Dreams complex also helps defray the cost. The fireworks are shot off just north of the BLD complex.

Any shortfall is covered by bonus bucks collected from developers in exchange for sewer allocation certainty to build new homes.

In the past few years, the City of Ripon has paid $20,000 and more for the pyrotechnics made possible by the generosity of donors.

Local businessman and philanthropist Tony Mistlin, for example, offered to match up to $10,000 on any new donations for this year’s fireworks at the Mistlin Sports Complex.

Ripon Councilman Dean Uecker is hoping that the move from downtown – Stouffer Park at Ripon High – won’t discourage donors.

Last fall, the Ripon City Council emphasized the return of the pyrotechnic display to the Mistlin Sports Complex was due to safety rather than the ongoing remodeling of the RHS stadium by the Ripon Community Athletic Foundation. The non-profit group has been spending the summer getting the track ready for installation of the all-weather track.

“The state has new requirements for safety,” said Fire Chief Dennis Bitters back then.

The RHS location is now considered too small of an area for firing off the aerials, he noted. These overriding new restrictions would be too much of liability for the Ripon Consolidated Fire District if the Fourth of July event were to remain at Stouffer Park. 

The Fire District uses every full-time employee on duty as well as all off-duty and reserves doing overtime. Heaven forbid Illegal fireworks. The event of that would pull first responders away from protecting the community during fireworks show, Bitters said.

The aerial fireworks display in Ripon has gone back and forth over the years, from the RHS stadium to Mistlin, back to Stouffer and now a return to Mistlin.

Uecker said the reason for that was the City used to budget or fireworks. But that practice was discontinued – held at Mistlin back then – as he and his colleague Elden ‘Red’ Nutt formed a committee to bring back the pyrotechnic display to downtown.

During the first year, 2011, the Fireworks Committee as it became known reported 344 donors. This more than made possible the return to downtown fireworks show with $25,796 – expenses were $20,000 – leaving the non-profit group with $5,796 as a carryover for the following year.

That money came in handy the following year as 209 donors brought in $21,603. Expenses, however, went up to $21,823, leaving a minus $220 difference. A portion of the carryover took care of the deficit.

In 2013, the committee received a big $15,000 boost from Bethany Homes although the number of donors dipped to 104.

The overall donations were $29,661 but expenses tallied $26,192. Without the Bethany Homes donation, the committee would’ve had difficulty putting on last year’s fireworks, Uecker said.

The group began the fundraising efforts with more than $7,000 as seed money for 2014.

Uecker and others fear that Ripon may not have fireworks in the future, especially if donations continue to dwindle.

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