Fireworks show is on, sales banned
The fireworks show at the fairgrounds on Friday night is still on, although organizers were working Monday to arrange transportation and parking for an event that has averaged around 6,000 spectators in past years.
The Nevada City and Grass Valley city councils, meanwhile, formally voted Monday evening to ban the sale and use of all fireworks, including safe and sane, in their communities for the rest of the year.
“With the conditions out there, I don’t see how we can do it,” Nevada City Councilman David McKay said of allowing the use of any fireworks in city limits. The council voted 4-0 for the emergency ordinance after a 25-minute discussion.
The Grass Valley City Council also voted 4-0 for its emergency ordinance, with Councilman Dan Miller absent.
City Adminstrator Dan Holler said the eight nonprofit groups that had purchased permits to sell fireworks this year would get their money back.
Grass Valley Fire Chief Jim Marquis said he was still concerned about people bringing in illegal fireworks because of the ban, but noted, “It looks like people realize there’s too much risk this year.”
Jim Baubel of Grass Valley applauded the council’s vote and said he and many others in the city would like to see a permanent ban on fireworks.
“We hope you consider it next year,” Baubel said to the council. “Public safety outweighs the issue of making a quick buck for nonprofits.”
Though the fireworks picture cleared somewhat Monday, organizers said Friday’s Fourth of July Parade will start, smoke or shine, at 11 a.m. in downtown Nevada City.
“We’ve been getting phone calls all morning from people wondering if we’re going to have the July 4th parade. The parade will happen no matter what,” Cathy Whittlesey, executive director of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce, said Monday.
For people who do not attend the parade, it will be shown live on NCTV, according to Gil Dominguez of Touchdown Productions, which will help broadcast the event on Channel 16 in the south county and Channel 11 in western Nevada County.
In past years, the Fourth of July celebration moved from the parade in either Grass Valley or Nevada City to the fairgrounds, where thousands of spectators begin arriving around 3 p.m. and are entertained by live music before a fireworks show.
Mary Ann Mueller, executive director of the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, said a permit has been obtained for the fireworks show, which means it only can be canceled by order of the state fire marshall’s office or if weather conditions turn extremely hot and windy.
Mueller said she met Monday with firefighters stationed at the Nevada County Fairgrounds and their sophisticated weather forecasting equipment indicated conditions should be fine on Friday for a fireworks show.
“Things are looking pretty good this week,” said Mueller, adding that firefighters there were supportive of the show.
Whittlesey said a down payment has been made on the fireworks that will be picked up Friday morning by Ken Harney, who once again will direct the pyrotechnics at the show.
The biggest concern Monday was finding parking spaces, since the fairgrounds have become a large campground and command center for approximately 700 firefighters battling scores of blazes in Northern California that were sparked by recent lightning storms.
Howard Levine, director of the Grass Valley Downtown Business Association, said St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Grass Valley has agreed to make 1,200 spaces available in its lot near the fairgrounds for $3 a vehicle. From there, spectators can walk to Gate 3, he said.
Other arrangements, including enlisting shuttle buses, are expected to be announced Wednesday.
The fireworks show is a fundraiser for both chambers of commerce and the Grass Valley Downtown Business Association. Tickets cost $8 for adults, but the show is free for children under 12 and service members who attend in uniform. Personal fireworks and dogs are not allowed and while spectators can bring their own coolers, they can’t bring alcohol.
“This is a very important part of each of our organizations’ budgets,” Levine said of the fireworks show.
Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller contributed to this report. To contact Staff Writer Pat Butler, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4239.
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