GUSTINE - Fourth of July fireworks are a Gustine tradition which dates back over a century.

But lighting the night sky with the explosions of color which bring the traditional “ooohs” and “aaahs” from the audience is an expensive endeavor - one which requires the support of the community to continue.

Tiffany Vitorino, the city’s recreation coordinator who is working with the fireworks/park activity committee, and committee member/City Councilman Joe Oliveira told Mattos Newspapers last week that organizers are little more than halfway to their goal of raising the $25,000 needed to pay for this year’s show.

The fireworks display will go on regardless of whether the committee reaches its goal. The city, as has been customary in recent years, fronted the money to pay for the show - with the expectation that fund-raising efforts will cover the expense.

So far, Oliveira said, the committee has been able to meet that obligation each year as the community chips in to keep the fireworks tradition alive.

“People have to show their support for it,” Oliveira commented. “If we were a couple thousand dollars short, we could probably talk the council into supporting it, but it can’t go on that way. If we came close (to covering the cost) I’m sure the city would help us out, but if it gets to be a burden that is different.”

The committee has received a number of donations, held a successful paint night which raised $1,600 and will have some additional fireworks revenues from park activities and Lions Club beer booth proceeds.

But beyond that, Oliveira and Vitorino said, contributions from the community in general and at the gate the night of the fireworks show are essential in helping reach the fund-raising goal.

The fund-raising campaign comes in the face of uncertainty about how well the new fireworks show format will be received, Oliveira acknowledged.

The pyrotechnics will be fired from a city-owned soccer field a half-mile to the west of the Gustine High football stadium, which remains the primary viewing venue. The previous practice of launching the fireworks from school property adjacent to the stadium is no more, discontinued due to the cost of purchasing a special event insurance coverage for the campus.

Oliveira and Vitorino said, however, that the distance will allow the fireworks company to use larger shells and still provide a memorable show.

“They are going to be bigger and higher,” Oliveira said of the fireworks.

The organizing committee is adding some new twists to the stadium experience in hopes of overcoming reservations about the new format.

Entertainment will be offered, and a half dozen mobile food vendors have signed up to be in the stadium that evening. They will be serving up fare that ranges from pizza and tri-tip sandwiches to Mexican food and shaved ice, Vitorino said.

“We are hoping that people make an evening of it. They can go out to the stadium and have dinner with family and friends, enjoy the music and watch the fireworks, “ Oliveira and Vitorino said.

“The best place to go to (for fireworks viewing) is still going to be the stadium,” Oliveira added.

Donations to the fireworks campaign can be mailed to P.O. Box 16, Gustine, or dropped off at City Hall or Ford’s Farm Supply. Checks may be made out to the City of Gustine.