GUSTINE - While most traditional activities surrounding Independence Day in Gustine will not take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and related restrictions, organizers recently reaffirmed plans to move forward with a Fourth of July fireworks show.
City Manager Doug Dunford said plans are for fireworks to once again light up the night sky over Gustine on the patriotic holiday - albeit with some striking changes from the fireworks shows of years past.
Dunford said the fireworks will be set off from a field west of Gustine Middle School.
Viewers will watch the pyrotechnics from inside (or near) their vehicles to maintain social distancing rather than gathering in crowds.
Dunford said organizers may offer reserved parking spots on the middle school grounds to provide prime viewing spots while raising funds to help offset the cost of the fireworks show. Details had not been finalized prior to publication deadline for this week’s edition.
Free parking will be available at Gustine Elementary School and a number of surrounding streets and county roads, Dunford told Mattos Newspapers. Many residents will be able to enjoy the fireworks show from the comfort of their yards.
Dunford said organizers will emphasize the importance of social distancing.
“We are encouraging people to stay near their car and not go out and congregate,” he commented.
Fund-raising for the annual fireworks show is continuing. Donations can be directed to Gustine City Hall, and will also be accepted the evening of the fireworks show, Dunford told Mattos Newspapers.
Organizers hope to raise $25,000 for the fireworks. About half that amount had been raised as of Tuesday, said Tiffany Vitorino, the city’s recreation supervisor.
Donations of all sizes help make the fireworks show possible, Dunford emphasized.
“Whatever people want to donate we greatly appreciate,” he stated.
The City Council, he said, has emphasized the importance of holding the show and retaining some semblance of Fourth of July normalcy.
Residents for the most part have complied with stay-at-home orders, social distancing and other restrictions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Dunford pointed out.
“They have done a fantastic job. They have really helped us out,” he said. “They deserve to be able to sit there and enjoy (a fireworks show). We get to celebrate our Fourth of July.”
Mayor Pro Tem Joe Oliveira, who also is a member of the Fourth of July committee, echoed that sentiment.
Fourth of July fireworks are a long-standing Gustine tradition, Oliveira stated.....one which the council and committee members wanted to preserve even through the challenges of a pandemic.
“We found a way, which I feel is going to be a good way to have the fireworks without having big crowds gathered,” Oliveira commented. “Everybody will be spread out all over town to watch. I think it is an excellent solution.”