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Council keeps aerial display at BLD complex
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Aerial fireworks will again be launched near the Big League Dreams sports complex this Fourth of July but the plug has been pulled on the pre-party.
The Manteca City Council on Tuesday unanimously nixed a staff recommendation to move the fireworks show as well as the vendors and entertainment that has been happening prior to the pyrotechnics launch to Woodward Park.
The council had no stomach for bringing another major event with  attendant traffic, parking, litter, and noise issues to Woodward Park. They indicated they would revisit the issue at a much earlier date next year to see whether they want to move the fireworks to one of Manteca’s three community parks that are designed for larger gatherings much as Woodward Northgate, and Lincoln.
“I think we’ve overburdened (Woodward Park) neighbors,” Councilman Richard Silverman said.
He noted the city this year has added eight days that will bring massive crowds and traffic into the community that weren’t on the calendar previously. He was referring to the once a month food truck mania that returns this Sunday from 3 to 8 p.m. The first food truck mania last month brought 6,000 people to the park. The city already books major youth soccer tournaments at Woodward as well as the Memorial Day Weekend events.
The soccer tournaments have been a particular sore point with neighbors in the past as they’ve dealt with attendees blocking driveways as well as parking in  them, parking on corners and in front of fire hydrants, tossing litter into yards, and even using front yards to enjoy picnic lunches. The soccer organizations that host the tournaments have been working to address those concerns.
The decision means Manteca will save over $16,000 by not staging the pre-fireworks celebration featuring vendors and entertainment. Of that, $13,815 went to the BLD organization for services including clean-up, gate manpower and other stop. BLD also benefitted from having all food and refreshment sales save for a few items they didn’t carry as BLD prohibited the city from renting booth space to most food vendors at the city-owned facility. Other costs include renting equipment and miscellaneous expenses
That is in addition to the $4,000 in staff costs the Park & Recreation Department incurs to stage the event.
The city was essentially incurring nearly $20,000 in costs for the pre-fireworks event that 2,809 people paid to attend last year.
The aerial fireworks display will cost the city $17,000. Last  year $7,000 of that cost was covered by the city’s share of proceeds from the one fireworks booth they retain independent of the annual non-profit lottery for the Manteca Police Officers Association to sell safe and sane fireworks.
People could still pay to enter the BLD complex to view the fireworks that will be launched on the grounds of the wastewater treatment plant to the north.
By staying at BLD, the aerial fireworks will continue to be sent to between 750 and 800 feet above the ground. Had it moved to BLD, the aerial fireworks would have had a 400-foot ceiling due to concerns about embers drifting onto nearby homes.
The council clarified that other events could be scheduled at Woodward Park, just not the aerial fireworks display for the Fourth of July for at least this year.