As area residents are getting excited about the Fourth of July and blowing off "safe and sane" fireworks being sold around town, a former California Department of Forestry firefighter living in Ceres asked the Ceres City Council to think about banning all kinds of fireworks.
Leonard Shepherd suggested last week that the drought and dry conditions were enough reason to ban firework sales.
"I'm wondering what the county Board of Supervisors and the cities that allow fireworks are doing when it's ... third year of a drought and we're saying conserve water, conserve water, conserve water," said Shepherd. "Yet they're allowing fireworks in this county."
He also condemned the illegal variety of fireworks. The state has a ban on all fireworks that explode or leave the ground. Those fireworks - purchased in other states or countries and smuggled across the state border - do a lot of damage every year and keep fire departments scrambling.
"It's not patriotic to burn down your neighbor's house to fire off a bottle rocket off onto their roof," said Shepherd.
When he asked the council if they had considered banning fireworks, Mayor Chris Vierra replied, "Yes, we have, but I think you aptly identified that in order for it to be effective it needs to be countywide because if we banned them here, people will buy them in Modesto and bring them here."
Shepherd added that "the cops and firefighters can't do anything about them because there are so many of them."
In 2011, 17,800 fires were started from the use of illegal fireworks. Those fires caused an estimated $32 million in property damage.
Ceres has had a policy for years of allowing non-profit organizations in Ceres to sell the so-called safe and sane fireworks, which are still legal in the county.
The following is a list of the groups selling them and their booth locations:
• Ceres Football Club, 1561 Mitchell Road;
• Ceres Pathfinders, 1578 Whitmore Ave.;
• Ceres Youth Soccer Organization, 3240 Mitchell Road;
• CVHS Athletic Sports Boosters, 1657 E. Hatch Road;
• Grace Community Christian Church, 1354 Hatch Road;
• Ceres Sizzle, 2362 E. Whitmore Ave.;
• Valley View Church of the Nazarene, 2916 E. Whitmore Ave.;
• Ceres Livestock Boosters, 1515 Mitchell Road;
• CVHS Band & Guard, 1830 Mitchell Road;
• American Legion Post #491, 2531 E. Whitmore Ave.;
• Ceres Christian Church, 2420 E. Whitmore Ave.;
• Ceres Dolphins Swim Club, 1650 E. Hatch Road;
• First Pentecostal Church, 1850 E. Hatch Road;
• Ceres Cowboys Delta Youth, 1670 Mitchell Road;
• Howard Training Center, 2075 E. Hatch Road.
This year there are a number of organized sanctioned aerial fireworks shows and fun activities around the region.
Modesto has celebrated Fourth of July with a parade through the streets of downtown fir 140 years and 2015 will be no exception. While the city doesn't have an official fireworks show like surrounding communities - sharing last year's celebration with the Stanislaus County Fair at the fairgrounds in Turlock - people donning their red, white and blue will be lining the parade route early on Saturday morning to make sure they get to see the classic American cars that have become representative of Modesto's roots as well as other entries that draw thousands.
Here is what you can expect to find if you're planning on celebrating Fourth of July in Modesto this year: Independence Day with the Modesto Nuts - The Single A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies will once again be hosting an after-game fireworks show to coincide with the national holiday on Friday. The show, which will take place after the 5:30 p.m. game, is the only organized fireworks show inside of Modesto's city limits. Tickets for the game may be purchased by searching for Modesto Nuts online and clicking on the team's official website. They begin at $5 for children and seniors and $6 or adults.
Modesto 4th of July Parade - This is the granddaddy of them all. The route extends down 10th Street up around Modesto Center Plaza and then down onto I Street. The 2015 parade theme is "Let Freedom Ring" and will feature floats, classic cars and good old-fashioned American fun. The parade started at 9:30 a.m. and is sponsored by the Modesto Kiwanis Club.
Fourth of July will culminate with a bang - literally - in Turlock this year as the annual fireworks show will once again be welcomed at California State University, Stanislaus after a five year hiatus - thanks to the collaborative partnership between the Turlock Chamber of Commerce, the City of Turlock and the university.
This year's event will include bounce houses, a children area and live music prior to the firework display. Guests are also encouraged to have their own picnics while they wait, although alcohol and barbeques will not be allowed on campus.
Although the fireworks will be visible throughout campus, visitors are encouraged to view them from the large grassy areas west of Fitzpatrick Arena. The fireworks will be launched from Lot 11A on the southeast end of campus.
The free Fourth of July Celebration at CSU Stanislaus will begin at 7 p.m. on July 4. The fireworks show, which will begin after sundown, will close out the night.
Parking for the event is free and uniformed officers will guide drivers where to go. Some areas will be off limits because of their proximity to the fireworks. Street parking on Monte Vista, Geer and Crowell Road will be prohibited starting the morning of July 3.
Monte Vista Avenue between Geer Road and Crowell Road will be closed starting at 6:30 p.m. on July 4. Access to the parking lots will be available from the south via Dels Lane, the east via Geer Road, the west via Crowell Road, and the north via Christofferson Parkway.
Additionally, prior to the evening's fireworks show, community members can kick off their Fourth of July celebration at Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association's Street Faire and Parade.
This year's Street Faire will include a kids zone with face painting, bounce houses, human hamster balls, and balloon twisters.
According to TDPOA executive director Gina Loretelli, an assortment of food will also be available during the Street Faire, including wood-fired breakfast pizzas from 10 EAST, gourmet root beer floats, kettle corn and shaved ice.
"I think that it is patriotic and it is great for the community when everyone gets together," said Loretelli. "This event shows that the community supports downtown and that downtown loves the community by hosting these great events."
"The more that people attend these events, the more we want to do events for the community," continued Loretelli.
The street faire will begin at 8 a.m. on July 4 in Central Park. The Turlock parade will begin at 10 a.m.
The Ripon community Fourth of July carnival is scheduled for three days at Mistlin Sports Park on River Road, east of Jack Tone Road and beyond Highway 99.
Jeremiah North is in charge of the event and promises an exciting carnival and at least eight food vendors on site for the festivities. North noted there will be no charge for parking or viewing the fireworks after dusk on Saturday, July 4. The crowd may sit on the lawn with their families at the sports park outside of the fallout area.
Riponite Tony Mistlin of Mistlin Honda in Modesto has donated $3,000 toward the cost of the fireworks this year. Donations from the public are being urged to provide for the 2016 extravaganza.
The spectacular may even be seen from many of the homes in Ripon as the projectiles burst above and fill the sky with color - reminding citizens of the meaning of the holiday and just how the freedom of this country was won.
Carnival tickets may be purchased on line prior to the event at Ripon4thofJuly.com
The pre-sale tickets may be turned in at the carnival for the following days' rides:
Friday, July 3, unlimited rides with a wristband from 4 until 11 p.m.
Saturday, July 4, will offer a book of 30 tickets from 1noon until 11 p.m.
Sunday, July 5, will give unlimited rides with a wristband for rides from noon until 9 p.m.