May 27, 2014

Livingston Fourth of July fireworks cut down to one day

The city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks show was planned to run three days this year, but officials said Tuesday they cut it down to one day because of the drought and a shortage of fire personnel.

The city’s annual Fourth of July celebration was supposed to have fireworks shows on three days this year, but officials said Tuesday they cut it back to one show because of drought conditions and increasing demands on firefighting resources.

But organizers said the change won’t affect other Fourth of July festivities, with the three-day festival and four-day carnival to go on as planned. There will also be live music, a classic car show, food and craft vendors and a car raffle.

“We were going to do three days of fireworks, but after talking to fire personnel, they couldn’t have the resources there all three days,” said Julio Valadez, chairman of the Livingston Fourth of July Committee.

Valadez said the decision to cut back on the fireworks shows came after discussions with Merced County Cal Fire officials last week. He said the Fire Department is short-handed and firefighters are being called to different locations because of the drought.

“The Fire Department needed to be available elsewhere because of the dry conditions all around (the state),” he said. “We need the fire personnel to be present in order to make sure everything is OK.”

Cal Fire officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Valadez said the one fireworks show will give spectators the biggest bang for their buck. “We will pack the three-day fireworks into one, so it will be the biggest fireworks show in the Valley,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot bigger than normal.”

The 45-minute Fireworks Spectacular will begin at dusk on July 4. Last year, the three-day festival drew an average of 40,000 people from around the Valley, according to organizers.

Livingston Police Chief Ruben Chavez said he’s surprised to hear there will only be one fireworks show instead of three but that he understands the reasons behind the decision.

“The fireworks show is always a big hit,” Chavez said. “I think it’s unfortunate that the drought is causing a situation that we have to pull back, but it’s for the safety of the community.”

The Livingston Fourth of July festival runs July 4-6 at Memorial Park and Livingston High School. The carnival runs July 3-6.

The classic car show will kick off with a parade of hot rod cars starting at the TravelCenters of America truck stop and ending at Memorial Park. The car show runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 5.

“Some people think the whole festival is just one day and it’s not,” Valadez said. “We are still having a three-day festival and four days of carnival.”

Tickets for the car raffle and carnival can be purchased online or at Livingston City Hall. Carnival tickets are 50 percent off if purchased in advance. For more information, visit www.livingston4thofjuly.com.

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