Atwater's Fourth fete expected to be big one

ATWATER -- The stage is set for both an explosion of fireworks during this year's Fourth of July show and an explosion in attendance.

The fireworks show in Atwater has always been popular, said Mayor Joan Faul. Since Livingston recently cancelled its fireworks show, which was among the biggest in the Central Valley, she expects this year's celebration in Atwater to be the largest ever.

"This is our biggest event probably that we have going for us in the city of Atwater," she said. "Our downtown area is always packed for our different booths, and our parade is always well attended."

Livingston cancelled its show after not being able to come up with enough funding for the event.

It's likely that many of Livingston's annual spectators will attend the show in nearby Atwater, Faul said. More people may also come from other nearby cities such as Turlock and Merced, both of which cancelled their usual fireworks shows.

Though the Atwater Fourth of July celebration will take place, it's not immune from funding issues either, said Greg McDaniel, chairman of the Atwater Fourth of July celebration. About $10,000 has been raised so far for the event, which costs $25,000 to stage, he said.

Donations are down about 60 percent from last year because of the struggling economy, McDaniel said.

With booth sales and T-shirt sales, McDaniel expects to cover the bills for this year despite the decline in funding.