by Joanna Metheny Most have probably heard by now that Ripon will not be having our annual fireworks show at Mistlin Park this Fourth of July. This wildly popular event typically …
by Joanna Metheny
Most have probably heard by now that Ripon will not be having our annual fireworks show at Mistlin Park this Fourth of July. This wildly popular event typically draws thousands of visitors, both from out of town, as well as local, for an evening of fun and patriotic festivities. Free to the public, the event is always packed with attendees, but not everyone is aware of what is involved behind the scenes.
For the past three years, the show has been sponsored by the Ripon Chamber Foundation. Prior to that, the fireworks have been sponsored by a number of groups, including the 4th of July Committee, private citizens, and the City of Ripon, and not every year has seen the show go on. With a staff of just two people, the Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Foundation put on an impressive ten large events each year, including the Almond Blossom Festival and Main Street Day. The coordination and planning of each event is a massive undertaking, and early this spring, the Chamber Foundation made the tough call to not sponsor the fireworks show in 2019.
While expensive, the cost of putting on the fireworks show isn’t as astronomically pricey as some might expect. The bulk of the event budget goes to payment of the company contracted to run the fireworks show, and generally runs in the $20,000 ballpark. Other associated costs include things like insurance, portable bathrooms, and security. The greatest challenge though with pulling off this event successfully, is finding enough willing volunteers to help everything run smoothly. A huge number of volunteers are needed to help with parking directions and collecting fees, setting up, and primarily cleanup of the park that evening following the event. Many want to enjoy the fireworks show, but unfortunately, not as many have been willing to give a bit of their time to ensure it continues.
After the Chamber Foundation’s decision to not sponsor the 2019 fireworks, they approached numerous groups in the local community about taking over the event. The Chamber and Chamber Foundation’s board members and staff reached out to multiple groups and non-profit organizations, but unfortunately no one was able or willing to take over the planning or cover the budget of the show.
Over the years, public support through volunteering at the event has waxed and waned. Often in the years following an absence of the fireworks show, residents’ interest and willingness to help out has typically increased and there is a collective drive to guarantee the show returns. In order to see the show come back for 2020, someone needs to be willing to take on the planning, volunteer coordination, and budgeting, and the public will need to rally around them by offering up their time to volunteer.
For those still looking to enjoy some 4th of July festivities, both Manteca and Tracy have large events. As for in-town fireworks, there are a number of local groups selling fireworks in booths set up around town (such as the VFW’s at Save Mart). The general rule of thumb is anything marked “Safe and Sane” is legal to set off, but only in residential streets or on private property. Any type of firework with an aerial component is illegal, and our police department has publicly stated they will have extra officers on patrol for enforcement.
About the author: For nearly a decade, Joanna Metheny has been a freelance writer specialized in the coverage of local topics and community interest stories. A Central Valley transplant and Bay Area native, Joanna permanently relocated to Ripon and hasn’t looked back once. She loves the city’s proud agricultural history and small town feel. Joanna enjoys spending her time in the community, tending her garden, and discovering local secrets along Ripon’s backroads.