Despite some complaints about the quality of last year's Fourth of July fireworks show at the Hollister Municipal Airport, the Hollister City Council on April 3 approved spending $3,600 from General Fund reserves to bring the show back this summer.
Most of the funding for the show comes from the 11 nonprofit organizations that operate safe and sane fireworks booths throughout town in the weeks leading up to Independence Day. The $8,400 in booth permit fees helps fund the show, which last year was moved from Marguerite Maze Middle School to the airport amid concerns about fire safety because of the lingering drought. Management Services Director Mike Chambless asked the council to approve the expenditure of $3,600 from city reserves to make up the difference in cost.
Retired City Clerk Geri Johnson and the Community Fireworks Display Group previously organized the annual public fireworks display, but participation in that group had dwindled to just Johnson, who asked the city to take over the responsibility for the show this year.
Councilman Ray Friend did not mince words when describing last year's fireworks show, saying, "The show that you had out at the airport was crap. Compared to the show you had at the school, it was garbage." He added that he wouldn't support spending money on the show and noted that the Golden State "Warriors have better fireworks inside the auditorium. If you want to improve the show, we'll see. It's not a very good show if lat year was an example."
Chambless said that while the city planned to use the same fireworks contractor, "we had discussion of how to improve the show."
Hollister resident Marty Richman said during the public comment portion of the discussion that he and his wife "never miss the fireworks show" and that he supported moving it to the airport because of the drought." While he agreed that the show "needs some perking up," he encouraged the city to "start handing out expensive tickets" to people caught using expensive fireworks, which could help offset the costs of the city's show.
Despite his previous criticism of the show, Friend ultimately made a motion to approve the $3,600 expenditure and the action received unanimous support from the council.