By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Boom goes bust: Lathrop cuts fireworks & free hot dogs
Placeholder Image
LATHROP – The City of Lathrop will still get to celebrate its 20th birthday on July 1. But it will be sans the spectacular fireworks that attracted the estimated crowd of up to 10,000 that turned out last year at the then newly opened Mossdale Landing Community Park.

But these are decidedly leaner times, with the city laying off workers to deal with an anticipated annual $2.5 million budget deficit for the next five years starting with the fiscal year beginning on July 1.

Instead, residents will have a scaled-down and simplified version of last year’s extravaganza by the San Joaquin River with the venue going back to the Manuel Valverde Community Park in the historic Old Town district where it all started in the first place.

At the City Council meeting Tuesday night, council members were told that the city would need to shell out an estimated $75,623.90 to stage the same celebration they had last year. The lion’s share of that expense was $50,000 which would cover Police Services alone. Fire District services would cost $5,873.90. The other big-ticket item would be the fireworks pegged at $16,000, with the rest of the expenses for Port-a-Potty rentals, sound system, food and miscellaneous supplies.

In contrast, having the old-fashioned family picnic celebration at Valverde Park would cost just less than $10,000. Mayor Kristy Sayles said two businesses have already pledged $7,500 sponsorship for this event – with $5,000 pledged by Pacific Gas & Electric and $2,500 by Solid Waste Management.

She said she was confident that the rest of the expenses will be raised from donations and fund-raisers and that the expenses being fronted by the city, which has set aside $20,000 for this purpose, would be fully repaid.

Interim Parks and Recreation Director Katie Lemons said this community event has always been held on the strength of donations with no expenses coming from the city coffers.

“Unfortunately, because of the economy,” she said, they have not been getting the generous donations they have seen in previous years.

Lathrop is hardly the only one scaling down Fourth of July celebrations this year by getting rid of the fireworks, Lemons said. Neighboring cities like Stockton, Ripon and Turlock are not having fireworks either because of the economy, she said.

There won’t be free hotdogs either at the old-fashioned birthday picnic as they had in previous years. However, attendees will be able to buy food and drinks from nonprofit organizations’ food booths during the event, which will include live entertainment featuring local talents.

“When things get better, we can go back to free hotdogs,” Lemons said.

Asked by the council members to explain the estimated $50,000 expenses for Police Services, Lt. Chris Pehl said the figure was based on the size of last year’s event.

“We didn’t realize there would be that many people. We were not expecting the great turnout last year,” Pehl said.

According to the staff report presented to the council members, the estimated $50,000 would have covered the following if this year’s event were held in the same manner as last year’s: 26 officers, two lieutenants, two sergeants, one correctional officer for transporting, one dispatcher, security guards, traffic plan, a secure van, and S.T.A.R.S. (Sheriff’s Team of Active Retired Seniors).

The expenses for having the fire district’s services estimated at $5,873.90 would have covered two fire captains, four firefighters, 10 reserve firefighters, one fire inspector, two Type III engines, and one prevention vehicle.

The simplified event being planned for July 1 will not include the two major expenses involving police and firefighters since there won’t be any fireworks display.

The July 1 Birthday Committee’s account has $570 from donations received since last year’s event.