Modesto's budget crisis finally could sever its financial support of the city's annual Independence Day celebration.
That threat has loomed over Modesto's July 4 parade and fireworks for years.
On Wednesday, the Modesto Junior Chamber of Commerce learned that next month's celebration likely would be the last to benefit from a $10,000 stipend from city coffers.
The junior chamber isn't sure that it can continue holding the celebration without that support unless more sponsors come forward.
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"It's still going to go on, but what's going to happen is we're going to find ourselves in a hole that we can't get out of,' said Vincent Sandoval, who leads the junior chamber committee that organizes Independence Day events.
This year's Fourth of July celebration kicks off with a parade downtown at 10 a.m. A picnic at Graceada Park follows at 11 a.m., and there's a choreographed laser show in Enslen Park at 9:30 p.m.
Next year, Sandoval wants to add fireworks to the laser show. Doing so would increase its cost.
The Modesto Nuts are providing fireworks this year after their game July 3.
The 2009-10 budget the City Council adopted last week did not provide grants as it had in years past for cultural groups, except for the $10,000 subsidy for the Independence Day event.
The city has an additional $4.8 million to cut from its budget and could face even more reductions over the next year if the state balances its budget by borrowing money from local governments.
Councilman Dave Lopez wants to see the parade and celebration thrive but without support from public cash.
He said the city's police and firefighters are planning a fund-raiser in September to help next year's July 4 events. He wants to put together two more fund-raisers.
"We want them to be self-sustaining so they're not relying on the budget when it gets better and when it goes bad," he said. "It's a cyclical thing."
Marie Gallo is this year's Fourth of July Parade marshal. The junior chamber is planning a dinner for June 26.
To find out more about the Junior Chamber of Commerce's Independence Day plans, visit www.jayceesmodesto.org or call Vincent Sandoval at 450-3810.
Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2366.