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Lathrop moving birthday bash to Sept. due to lack of volunteers
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LATHROP – What if you have a birthday coming and the celebration is moved three months after the actual date? Not only that, the party in your honor is being combined with another celebration?

This is what’s happening with the annual Lathrop Birthday Celebration on July 1, and at least one resident is saying he is not in favor of that at all.

“When you have a birthday, the date does not change. Lathrop Days is Lathrop Days. Lathrop’s Birthday Party is Lathrop’s Birthday Party,” said resident and former councilmember Steve Dresser about the apparent decision made by the now combined Lathrop Days and Lathrop Birthday mayor’s committees to move the July 1 community birthday event to the Lathrop Days celebration at the end of September.
Dresser addressed this issue during the citizens’ comment portion of the Lathrop City Council meeting Monday night.

Dresser is also not happy that this change of plans will move the city’s birthday party venue from Valverde Park in Historic Lathrop to the Dell’Osso Farms at Stewart Tract in west Lathrop. Additionally, by moving the actual date to a later day, “you lose the birthday-party feel,” he said.

There has been no official announcement made on the decision by the combined committees not to hold the annual “Picnic in the Park” birthday celebration on July 1, but Dresser said he learned about it when “a couple of people called me up asking, ‘what do you know about it?’”

Diane Lazard of the combined Lathrop Days and Lathrop Birthday Celebration committees explained during the council meeting that the committees were combined because “we don’t have enough volunteers any longer” for both events. She also cited “lack of funding” as the other reason for holding the community birthday celebration in September instead of on July 1. There was simply “not enough time to raise money” for the July 1 family picnic extravaganza at Valverde Park, she said.

This decision though is “for this year only,” she pointed out.

Donations from local businesses helped foot the bill for the previous years’ annual July 1 Lathrop Birthday celebrations, and “developers also helped,” Lazard said.
Some people were upset that there were no fireworks last year, “but last year we couldn’t afford it,” she said.
The economy went downhill and that’s why they were short of money, added Lazard who is a member of the Planning Commission.

Dresser said he understands that combining the two events will save money, but not the lack of volunteers.

“Why didn’t they go to the Lathrop Lions, the Lathrop Rotary, the seniors and the Lathrop High School Boosters Club and say, ‘hey, can you help us up?’ It doesn’t make sense to me,” said Dresser who is a member of the Lathrop Rotary and is active in other community events and projects.

“And what’s the cash outlay for the birthday party? Almost everything else is donated. Some city workers are involved because they have to do the clean-up. Maybe we’re thinking too simplistically, but I’m sorry, you don’t change the date (of the city’s birthday party). You could cancel the event but not change the birthday,” Dresser said.

He added that he was “shocked” to hear about the decision to move the Lathrop birthday event without asking the community for input or recommendation on the matter.

“A decision that big ought to have a little discussion,” Dresser said.

Mayor Kristy Sayles and the rest of the council did not offer any comments on the issue. Both the Lathrop Birthday Celebration and the Lathrop Days are the mayor’s committees with the members appointed by the mayor.

For many years, the celebration commemorating the incorporation of Lathrop as a city was an annual event billed as a Family Picnic in the Park at Valverde Park on Fifth Street. Families were encouraged to bring picnic blankets or lawn chairs and enjoy free hotdogs, watermelons courtesy of George Perry & Sons, bottled water, cookies and cakes donated by generous members of the community. Donations from local businesses and generous individuals made it possible to include a patriotic pyrotechnic display and historical presentation to the extravaganza at the end of the day’s celebration which included live performances by local talents. For a number of years, the Tracy Community Band also came to perform at the event. Former council member Robert Oliver and Lathrop resident Karen Duke were members of the band.
The celebration of Lathrop Days goes back to the time prior to the city’s incorporation.