Much like every other event and holiday originally planned for 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has caused the 4th of July to look a little bit different in Turlock this year.
Downtown Turlock first announced in April that its annual 4th of July Car Show and Parade was canceled due to COVID-19, and this week reiterated the fact although the economy has slowly begun to reopen throughout Stanislaus County. The cancelation due to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban on large gatherings was announced via a Facebook post.
“We know this event is something everyone looks forward to during the summer but the community’s safety and health is our number one priority,” the post said. “We want to thank all our participants, sponsors and of course all of you that attend. We look forward to seeing everyone next year!”
Since area firework shows have also been cancelled due to COVID-19, many will be having shows of their own at home with safe and sane fireworks. While booths have popped up around town where community members can purchase their own, Interim Fire Chief Gary Carlson reminded citizens to be safe on the 4th of July, which he anticipates to be a busy Saturday night for his team.
“People have got some COVID fatigue,” Carlson said. “They want to get out and celebrate.”
Fireworks both legal and illegal cause residential fires annually, Carlson said, and the week leading up to the 4th of July is typically the department’s busiest. The same goes for the Turlock Police Department, Chief Nino Amirfar said that TPD responded to over 600 calls for service on July 4, 2019, many of which were due to illegal fireworks. Mortars and other illegal fireworks are already a problem nightly in Turlock, and both public safety entities will be stepping up enforcement as the holiday approaches.
Amirfar said that police officers — marked and unmarked — are on high alert for those using illegal fireworks. They not only cause fires, he said, but unnecessary stress for pets and war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. This year, TPD is utilizing days typically reserved for the week of fair during the 4th of July so that they can have more officers on duty.
“It’s already going on; it just never seems to stop. This year is the worst ever,” Amirfar said. “I want to remind those that are going to be using illegal fireworks, we’re going to have cops out there. They're gonna be unmarked, they may be marked. You may see them, you may not. But you may get a ticket in the mail.”
Amirfar said community members looking to report the use of illegal fireworks can call TPD’s non-emergency line at 209-668-1200.