It has been five years since the Manteca High School Athletic Boosters last had a fireworks booth.
And on Monday when the organization that helps support all sports at the city’s original high school set up, they did so in true Manteca High fashion.
A large inflatable green-and-white tunnel sat near Yosemite Avenue in the Food-4-Less parking lot. A vinyl banner advertising the school’s winning athletic history adorned one of the walls of a temporary storage shed across from where organizers hope to raise money for uniforms, equipment and team fees over the course of the next week.
Inside of the wooden booth sat sophomore football and baseball coach Josh Farris, who was enjoying the benefits of a fan on a day that was expected to hit triple digits – waiting for his coworker to return with milkshakes to help beat the heat.
Business, on opening day, was slow – there were no takers on the $600 Phantom Fireworks mega pack that looked like it could rival most municipal fireworks shows.
But Farris said that the traffic tends to pick up towards the end of the week – when all of the volunteers have to work a shift to keep up with demand.
“Closer to the Fourth is when things really tend to get busy,” he said. “That’s when you get a lot of people that go in together as a neighborhood on one of the bigger packs – to share in it together.”
And if competition helps everybody, the Manteca High Boosters booth will be humming within a few days.
Just a few parking stalls away the Order of the Eastern Star – a Masonic organization – had their booth advertising the rival TNT Fireworks offerings, and shared a similar business lull.
Some of the work required to staff it, however, should be shortened by a joint-decision between the two non-profits.
According to Bob Miller, who spent a portion of his Sunday making sure that everybody was placed correctly in order to get the signoff of the Manteca Fire Department, the two organizations have decided to employ the use of a security guard from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. – eliminating the tedious and labor-intensive process of breaking everything down at the end of the day and putting it all back together the following morning.
“They had talked about getting a security guard so we offered to split the cost in order to watch both,” said Miller – who represents an organization that donates to the American Cancer Society and organizes food drives to stock pantries benefitting the less fortunate in the community. “It takes a lot of work and organizing to put one of these together, and this will help us out a lot.
“Today we’ve only had one customer, but they said it was going to be 104 or 105 degrees and it doesn’t feel like that right now, so I guess that’s a good consolation.”
Manteca fireworks booths are permitted through the City of Manteca to sell safe-and-sane fireworks through midnight on July 4. Non-profit organizations get selected to participate in the program – in which the groups contract with fireworks companies and split a portion of the profits – through a lottery system.