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Selling fireworks for next years Lathrop celebration
Diane Lazard, center, shows volunteers Arnita Montiel, left, and Anna Candelaria how to operate the cash register in the safe and sane Fireworks booth at the Save Mart shopping center on Harlan Road. The booth, which hopes to raise money for the fireworks display to celebrate Lathrop’s birthday on July 1 next year, is run by the merged Lathrop Days and Lathrop’s Birthday committees. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO
LATHROP – The City of Lathrop is selling fireworks to have fireworks next year.

Diane Lazard likes to use that word play to drum up business at the “safe and sane” fireworks booth run by the combined committees of the Lathrop Birthday Celebration on July 1 and the Lathrop Days festival in the fall.

“If you want fireworks next year, buy from us,” she told the parade of people who came to buy “safe and sane” fireworks at their booth located in the parking lot of the Save Mart shopping center on North Harlan Road on the south side of Lathrop Road.

All proceeds from this booth are earmarked for the return of the pyrotechnic display next year to highlight the celebration of Lathrop’s incorporation as a city on July 1. Today marks the 21st birthday of San Joaquin County’s youngest city. But for the first time in more than a decade, that milestone is being observed without any fanfare. There’s just not enough money during these Great Recession times and not enough volunteers to stage the annual “picnic in the park” plus fireworks this year, Lazard told city officials at a recent council meeting. Instead, Lathrop’s birthday will be celebrated during Lathrop Days at the Dell’Osso Farms in the fall. Lathrop Days is the prelude to Dell’Osso Farms’ month-long Corn Maze and Halloween extravaganza.

Money generated by the “safe and sane” fireworks will be used to return Lathrop’s birthday bash back to July 1 with the traditional Family Picnic in the Park complete with barbecued hotdogs, drinks and cookies and a dramatic and patriotic aerial show to cap the day.

Lazard said at least $15,000 from the fireworks fund-raiser would be a “comfortable” amount to get the pyrotechnic display going next year.

“We’re shooting to raise $15,000 to $20,000. That’d be great if we could raise that amount,” she said.

“That’s why I tell my friends this is the place to come (and buy safe and sane fireworks) if they want the fireworks back. You get more for the money here because you’re investing in next year’s fireworks show,” she said.

So far, that word-of-mouth advertising has been successful.

“It’s been working; that’s what people say,” Lazard said.

The first two days have been quite busy, she said.

“So far it’s pretty good,” she said about the buyers’ traffic.

On Monday, the first day they were open, “a lot of people were getting price sheets,” she said.

Many of the people who stopped by on Monday were quite surprised to see a booth selling fireworks in Lathrop, the volunteers said.

“They were asking, ‘We can light these? It’s legal here this year?’ People were shocked – and happy – that that’s the case,” Lazard said.

Among those who were happy about this turn of events in Lathrop were Rod Tober and his family. Tober and his daughters Julia, 9, and Jessica, 13, were among the customers who made purchases on Tuesday.

Rod Tober said he heard about the fireworks sale from fellow parishioners when he went to Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

“It’s nice. It will help the community out,” he said of the groups’ efforts to raise money for various philanthropic causes.

“We’ll light the fireworks on the Fourth of July,” said a smiling and excited Jessica.

No firefighters booth this year
Six different groups won the lotto process that was used to select those who can have a fund-raising booth this year. This process was used because there were fewer permits that were legally allowed to be given away than the number of clubs and organizations that wanted to be part of the short list. The permits are doled out based on the city’s population. For Lathrop, the number was six. Two of those were automatically allotted to the fire district, and the other to the city for the July 1 birthday and Lathrop Days committee. That left four permits which ran through the lotto process.

The groups that won the lotto selection and their booth locations are the following:

•Lighthouse Community Church at Circle K Store on the corner of Louise Avenue and Cambridge Drive.

•Lathrop Morning Rotary at the Luis Mercado Market (Delta Market) on the corner of Louise Avenue and Fifth Street.

•Lathrop Lions Club at the Target shopping center on Golden Valley Parkway at Mossdale Landing.

•Lathrop Steelers Youth Football and Cheer at the Carl’s Jr. parking lot on Louise Avenue and South Harlan Road.

Due to lack of volunteer manpower, the firefighters had to give up their booth.

Volunteers needed to sell fireworks
It takes several people to run the booths which are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., volunteer Arnita Montiel said.

That’s why she had to go before the council at their last regular meeting to ask for volunteers to help in the July 1-Lathrop Days booth, she said.

Lazard said they have four-hour work shifts at their booth – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 2 to 6 p.m., and 6 to 10 p.m.

But volunteers need not work the full four hours. “A couple of hours would be fine, too. Beggars are not choosers,” she said.

Currently, they have 10 volunteers. But, she said, “We’re still looking for more. If there’s anybody out there who can help out, we won’t say no.”

She said some city officials have pledged to come out and help on Friday. They include City Manager Cary Keaten, Finance Director Terri Vigna, City Clerk Mitzi Ortiz and her husband, Lathrop Youth Focus coordinator Anna Candelaria, and Lathrop-Manteca Fire District chief Fred Manding and wife Angela. Due to the Friday furloughs when City Hall is closed as part of the continuing effort to trim the budget deficit, city employees working at the booth will be volunteering on their own time.

For more information about how to volunteer at the Lathrop birthday-Lathrop Days booth, call Lazard at (209) 390-5099.