A spectacular celebration for the United States of America was celebrated Friday night when a barrage of fireworks exploded over Santa Paula marking the 238th anniversary of Independence Day.The 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular could be seen from many areas of the city; however, many families sat up close by finding a nice spot at Harding Park.

Santa Paula: Independence Day honored with Fireworks Spectacular

July 09, 2014
Santa Paula News

A spectacular celebration for the United States of America was celebrated Friday night when a barrage of fireworks exploded over Santa Paula marking the 238th anniversary of Independence Day.

The 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular could be seen from many areas of the city where each year barbecues are fired up for viewing parties or select surface streets swell with spectators and vehicles.

Also seen was a heavy dose of illegal fireworks that started being deployed a week before the official holiday.

Ginger Gherardi, co-chair of the Fireworks Committee, watched the show from a friend’s hillside home.

Said Gherardi, “I thought the show was really good this year, heard a lot of ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhs’ as the fireworks went off... Zambelli Fireworks always does a good job.”

As they should: The still family-owned Zambelli Fireworks was founded in 1893 and for more than a century have been displayed in a variety of venues from presidential celebrations to small town weddings.

This year’s Santa Paula Fireworks Spectacular lasted just a few minutes shy of 30 minutes and ended with a barrage of fireworks that sizzled, hissed, banged and boomed against the night sky sending out showers of color in all, shapes and configurations.

“It was a good show without incident,” said Santa Paula Fire Chief Rick Araiza. 

“There was a very big crowd at Harding Park,” where Araiza said strict “safety zones were maintained... everybody loved the show, that’s all I’ve heard, how much everyone really enjoyed it.”

There was one year that the sky over Santa Paula was dark and much like the Founding Fathers, it took gritty determination and strong action when the city - which had sponsored the event once the Mexican-American Chamber of Commerce dissolved - was unable to fund the show in 2009, due to the Great Recession.

The Santa Paula Fireworks Committee was formed and with donations from businesses and individuals, including those that dropped changedinto patriotically decorated cans, on merchants’ counters, insured the show would go on.

Each year the Fireworks Spectacular costs about $15,000.

“We really appreciate the generosity of our sponsors,” said Gherardi, “and the donors as well as those who put some spare change in a fireworks donation can. It really is a community event... “

Next year the committee will try to distribute more red, white and blue donation cans: “We know people enjoy knowing they helped and we are very grateful for all the contributions we get from the community,” even those nickels, dimes and dollar bills given on generous impulse.

The Santa Paula Fireworks Committee, said Gherardi, “Is really just a handful of people,” that after four years of planning the event finds “we’ve got it to the point where it almost takes care of itself!” 

Although Harding Park was again ground zero for the fireworks show there seemed to be a record number of bombs bursting in air from illegal fireworks.  

Araiza said that although the number of illegal fireworks was higher this year, unlike other locations - notably San Jose, where it was reported a man blew off his hands while lighting illegal fireworks - there were no injuries reported locally.

“With no fires and no injuries as far as I know it was a good weekend but there are a lot of illegal fireworks still going off... the problem is when you respond to the reports,” that pyrotechnics are being lit, “when you get there, there’s smoke everywhere but the people setting them off have scattered.”

Illegal fireworks were reported throughout Santa Paula ranging from the so-called “cherry bombs” to rockets being lit at various locations including the Oaks, the Santa Paula Airport and the Railroad Plaza.

Although the sale of safe and sane fireworks is legal in Fillmore, such fireworks purchased there can only be lit within Fillmore city limits.

Among illegal fireworks, more prevalent are those such as bottle rockets that are the most dangerous, completely banned in California, imported from out-of-state or Mexico.

In Santa Paula those found in possession of fireworks, lit or not, can face a $1,000 fine and jail time.





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