As staffing woes and the pandemic continue to affect both the City of Turlock as well as local businesses, there will be no 4th of July fireworks show or downtown parade yet again this year.
While COVID-19 put a stop to the Annual 4th of July Parade and Car Show last summer, event sponsor Patrick Jensen of Paul’s Glass Co. said the event just wasn’t possible again this year as his staff dwindles in the midst of an employment shortage. Jensen typically partners with the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association in order to host the downtown parade, but the organization is also shorthanded and currently without a leader as it looks to hire a new director.
“The entire support staff crew of about four people that used to work on that with me are no longer working in that capacity. And I simply cannot do it by myself,” Jensen said. “We just do not have the capable manpower to handle the amount of work.”
There hasn’t been a fireworks show in Turlock since 2018, when the Turlock City Council committed $22,500 of City funds to help Stanislaus State afford the $55,000 endeavor. The City of Turlock and Stanislaus State jointly cancelled the fireworks show in 2019 as budget constraints persisted, and all large gatherings were forbidden in 2020 because of the pandemic.
The university was not able to serve as a venue for the fireworks show this year, said Senior Associate Vice President for Communications, Marketing and Media Relations Rosalee Rush, and the campus is hoping to welcome students back to class this fall.
“We are pleased about the progress our state and county are making in regards to COVID-19 vaccinations. This is great cause for celebration as the Fourth of July holiday approaches. While the university is not able to serve as the venue for the city’s fireworks display, we hope everyone has a happy Independence Day,” Rush said. “We encourage everyone to do their part to keep themselves, their family, community and friends safe and healthy.”
City Councilman Andrew Nosrati said during Tuesday’s meeting that he had requested three times since April for fireworks show planning to be added to the agenda, but to no avail. Mayor Amy Bublak responded that the City didn’t have the personnel to add the item to the City Council agenda and that with such an overwhelmed staff, she didn’t feel like she could ask them to plan such an event.
Bublak told the Journal on Friday that the State of California’s short notice on the virus re-opening hindered planning efforts, but the City will soon begin planning for next year’s events. She did add, however, that community members have come together to plan an impromptu Independence Day celebration at New Life Christian Center.
“All Turlock residents are invited if you would like to celebrate the Fourth of July. Don’t be shy as all are welcome,” Bublak said. “I want to thank all branches of military for helping make sure that our community will have a volunteer option to celebrate Independence Day after months and months of our virus lockup. It is this type of volunteerism and civic pride that make us Turlock Strong.”
One such volunteer is Technical Sergeant Antonio Latorre of Turlock’s Air Force recruitment office, who said the event at New Life Christian Center on July 4 will feature a swearing in ceremony for future military members, led by a Space Force lieutenant colonel, as well as beverage vendors, bounce houses, local military recruiters and other activities. Local Veterans of Foreign Wars members will also serve as guest speakers for the event.
The event is tentatively set for noon to 3 p.m., Latorre said, but the time could change.
“It’s something we’ve been hoping for since the pandemic started, so just to even be able to share this experience with the community is amazing but also being able to be out there and have the support given back is something we’ve been waiting for,” Latorre said. “What we’re mostly trying to highlight is the future of the military and the members who are giving their commitment to the country itself. We live it, so we’re trying to show and highlight the ones that are our future.”
For those in search of a fireworks show and other fun to celebrate next weekend, several local cities are hosting events:
· In Modesto, the annual parade will take place downtown at 9:30 a.m. on July 3, as well as a fireworks show that evening at John Thurman Field.
· A fireworks show and concert is being held at the Castle Air Force Base in Atwater starting at 6 p.m. July 4; and
· The Los Banos Downtown Association is presenting a day-long celebration beginning at 11 a.m. July 3 in the Henry Miller Plaza and ending with a fireworks show that night.