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Fireworks booths enjoy brisk business
Linda Taberna is all smiles as customers head towards the fireworks stand on Louise Avenue on Sunday, the first day of fireworks sales across Manteca. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Charles Henry Jr. couldn’t help but take in the massive variety of safe-and-sane fireworks that were on display at the stand outside of the Manteca Historical Society.

Henry Jr., a Marine Veteran, browsed the racks of available offerings slowly and deliberately to make sure that whatever he was taking home was exactly what he set out for that day.

And while he admits that the things sold today aren’t anywhere near as powerful as the black cats and the M-80’s that he remembers from his days, Henry Jr. was just glad that he could find himself flashing back to a time when things seemed so much simpler.

“I came down here for my wife tonight to get her some stuff that she’d like – she’s just like a big old kid,” he said with a smile.

“Hopefully, we get home and don’t do anything that’ll make any of this stuff blow up.”

While the economic downturn and the rising unemployment rate have given families less disposable income overall, fireworks vendors have found that many families have sacrificed their multiple-day Fourth of July trips in lieu of a neighborhood party where they supply their own firework, which saves money and helps foster a sense of community spirit that just doesn’t happen on its own.

“I’m just hoping to be able to have a good time this weekend,” said resident Sergio Garcia, who noted that he’ll soon be moving to Stockton where safe-and-sane fireworks aren’t legal. “I’m looking forward to getting together with my family and friends and having a good time – that’s what this holiday is all about.”

And it isn’t just Manteca that has had a steady stream of customers filtering through the booths every day since they opened on Sunday at noon.

The City of Ripon was the first in San Joaquin County to make safe-and-sane fireworks legal, and several of the stands scattered along busy commercial thoroughfares were drawing their fair share of customers even in the grueling heat.

“It’s something that we wanted to do for our family,” said Ripon resident David Gutierrez while standing along Ripon’s Main Street browsing the merchandise. “For the last three years I’ve been working on the Fourth of July, so it’ll be nice to have some fireworks here and be able to spend the day with my family like you’re supposed to. That’s what the day is all about.”