No matter their ZIP code in Merced County, revelers are not far from a professional explosion of lights, crackles and bangs this Independence Day.
Many families prefer to light their own fuses to sparklers and whistling pyrotechnics, but a safer alternative might be big-time shows featuring heavily gunpowdered explosives – especially in a dry year.
Area fire officials have asked residents to be extra careful this year, because the drought has left grassy fields dry and ready to ignite. Jeremy Rahn, battalion chief for Cal Fire/Merced County Fire Department, encourages families to consider visiting a professional show in the county instead of having one at home. The big shows are regulated and watched by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Here are some of the shows happening on the Fourth of July:
What: Parade, festival and fireworks show
When and where: 7:30 a.m. Friday, “Run for Independence” at Ralston Park, at Third Street, between Grove and Fir avenues.
The parade begins at 9 a.m. in front of the Foster’s Freeze at 1401 Winton Way.
The Fourth of July Festival is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Ralston Park, followed by fireworks at Castle Airport, at 6.
Cost: $5 per carload
What: Parade and festival
When: Parade begins 10:30 a.m. Friday on Main Street, followed by a festival in Henry Miller Park, near Sixth Street and Third Avenue.
At nightfall, there will be fireworks at the Gustine High School stadium, 501 North Ave. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.
What: Carnival and fireworks show
When and where: The carnival will run from 3 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday and 3 to 11 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Park and Livingston High, near Park and Main streets. The fireworks show is slated for dusk Friday at Memorial Park.
Cost: Fireworks show and festival are free. Tickets must be purchased for carnival rides.
What: Fourth of July celebration, fireworks show
When and where: Friday at Veterans Memorial Stadium, 200 N. Ward Road. The fireworks show begins shortly after 9 p.m.