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Sober birthday without fireworks in store this year for Lathrop
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LATHROP – The City of Lathrop will still be able to celebrate its birthday.

But it’ll do so without alcohol and fireworks – two things that the Mayor’s committee initially proposed to the City Council as anchors of the four-day festival that’s set to kick-off on Sept. 21.

While the date of Lathrop’s incorporation is actually July 1, organizers decided that the event would draw more people if it were held in conjunction with the annual Lathrop Days event held every year at the end of September.

The combination of dramatic fiscal changes for the city, a massive reduction in donations received and a rapidly approaching deadline forced the hand of the committee to push back the date. Their initial plan, after settling in on September, was to have a beer garden that would help supplement the cost and cover the $8,500 shortfall that would exist if the fireworks display were to be included.

But things changed significantly when the council voted not to allow the sale of alcohol at Mossdale Landing Park for one day. They cited common problems like fights and disagreements that come from people who have too much to drink.

And when the group planned on using their fireworks sale proceeds from next year to cover the cost of the shortfall – which grew to just over $10,000 after incorporating the cost of Lathrop Police Services that would be required for the event – the council found a hole in that idea as well.

While they ended up making more than $10,000 in 2010, the group only cleared $2,000 in 2011 – leaving too much of a risk for the council to take with the public’s money. Vice Mayor Christopher Mateo flat-out didn’t think that fireworks would be appropriate using city money at all as long as the situation at City Hall remained the same.

“Here we have furloughs and you want a celebration. I think that it’s dollar foolish and penny wise,” he said. “Let them do whatever they want to do but as far as funding goes it’s a no-brainer.

“If I had a party and I wanted ice cream and cake and I only had money for cake I just wouldn’t have ice cream.”

The event will begin on Wednesday, Sept. 21, and culminate on Saturday, Sept. 24. A multitude of community activities including a softball challenge, a youth talent show, a movie in the park, a chili cook-off and the South County Idol competition are all scheduled to be a part of the four-day event.