For the 17th consecutive year, the Los Banos Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its annual fireworks show with a variety of fundraisers around town.
Twelve chamber volunteers spent Tuesday evening serving 350 drive-through dinners at $8 a pop, and the chamber is selling raffle tickets for the honor of pushing the plunger that kicks off the show. The event also has a number of sponsors, from small donors to those giving upwards of $1,000.
And the chamber has to do a lot of fundraising. The event, done through Pyro Spectacular, costs $23,000 to put on. That’s a far cry from that first fireworks show 17 years ago, when the Patriots Club raised the $8,500 to put on the pyrotechnic display. And while other communities have declined to put on fireworks shows due to increasing costs, Los Banos’ chamber still finds a way to rally the community for the aerial display.
“I know that it’s a really important event to the community, but I think there’s not the realization that the chamber solely provides the show,” Los Banos Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bertha Faria said. “There’s a misunderstanding that it’s something the city does. We don’t always have the support to put on a show that costs $1,000 a minute. We’re always able to skin by the hair of our teeth, but I think it’s something the community looks forward to.”
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After the drive-through dinner, Faria said the chamber is about halfway there, and hopes to finish with the organization’s fireworks booth this week.
“We used to get assistance with the city, but with the RDA (redevelopment agency) dissolving, we no longer get funds to help out with the fireworks show,” Faria said. “So they give us a fireworks booth to run each year. Now the ordinance has been increased, so there’s more competition and it’s tougher. We spend six days in 100-degree days. Unlike other organizations, which can use the money from the booth for various parts of their operation, all of the chamber’s income, after expenses, goes to Pyro Spectacular.”
Other organizations that will be selling fireworks include Los Banos Rotary Club, United Methodist Church, Los Banos Elks, Los Banos Lions, Soroptimist International and the Los Banos Volunteer Fire Department. Fire chief Chet Guintini said the department is asking each organization to include a safety and regulations pamphlet, provided by the department, in each sale.
For the fourth year, the show will take place at Pacheco High School’s Veterans Memorial Stadium. The event used to be at the Los Banos Fairgrounds.
“The cost is much more reasonable. The cost of the fairgrounds is kind of hard for the chamber to swing. Plus, there has to be a change in the program because of the location,” Faria said. “The school offered us a better deal, and we couldn’t refuse.”
The show will kick off at 9 p.m. July 4.