No official fireworks show was held last year in Los Banos, and that may be the case again Monday.
Ray Hammersley of the Los Banos Lions Club told the Enterprise on Wednesday that he was trying to make a last-minute push to secure funding and a location for a fireworks show over the holiday weekend.
Whether a show still can happen this weekend remained unclear as late as Thursday. Organizers insisted a show still could happen Monday, but could not say when a final decision would be made.
“I have commitments for donations,” Hammersley said, noting that a fireworks show would cost $18,000. But whether a show is held depends on whether those commitments come through, he said.
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Holding a fireworks show is a tough task to fund for any community organization. The cost can hover around $20,000 for a show that usually lasts 20 minutes, Hammersley said.
For years, the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce organized and paid for the fireworks show through fundraising.
The chamber’s fireworks sale booth, which is still running, also helped pay for the show.
But in the summer of 2014, its board of directors voted to discontinue it due to rising costs.
“The board decided that it wasn’t cost effective for us because each year the fireworks show increases in cost,” said Jerry Knoester, a chamber director.
Knoester said the show required many volunteers, hours and an increasing effort to secure sponsorship and donations.
“We would want it to pay for itself,” Knoester said.
After the chamber made the vote July 23, 2014, the City Council briefly considered paying for or helping to pay for the event.
The City Council didn’t sign on, but it did open up an avenue for a nonprofit organization to volunteer.
In September, the council unanimously voted to amend its ordinance to allow an eighth nonprofit group to sell fireworks. The group would be exempt from the annual lottery to sell fireworks, the same as the chamber, but it must use all the proceeds to host a community fireworks show.
“If any group wants to step forward, it’s in place,” Mayor Mike Villalta said Thursday. “The city has done its due diligence.”
The Los Banos Lions Club seemed like that organization. But with time running out for this weekend, it appears unlikely that a show could happen.
Hammersley on Wednesday didn’t rule out continuing the effort for next year.
Residents can still celebrate Independence Day fireworks and other activities at several areas in the county.
The Gustine Chamber of Commerce is hosting a day of events at Henry Miller Park, with a fireworks show starting 7 p.m. at Gustine High School’s football stadium.
Livingston has a Fourth of July Festival running from Friday evening through Monday at the Max Foster Sports Complex on Walnut Avenue.
Atwater is also holding a festival on Monday at Ralston Park.
The Merced Speedway is holding a fireworks show Saturday at 9 p.m., and the Merced Irrigation District is bringing back its Lights on the Lake display this year at 9 p.m. Saturday at Lake McClure.
The chamber is still selling fireworks at its booth in front of Save Mart at Pacheco Boulevard and Mercey Springs Road. They will be selling “safe and sane” fireworks from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday through Monday.