Chamber plans an old-time blast for Fourth

cpride@losbanosenterprise.comJune 26, 2013 

The Los Banos Chamber of Commerce is preparing to bring the community together for some old-fashioned fun next month.

"It's about the community (involvement) that's been missing from this city for a long time," said Cassandra Helmrick, the event organizer. "Don't you remember growing up, the Fourth of July was seeing friends, family, playing games and you'd have some food."

Helmrick is hoping residents want to re-create the festive atmosphere of yesteryear by attending the chamber's free Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration.

Veterans Memorial Stadium, 200 N. Ward Road, will open to the public at 5 p.m. Five area churches are organizing games, school groups will be selling food, and bands led by music teachers Tom Faria and Cliff Brand will entertain the crowd. Helmrick said guitarist Alvin Draper and harmonica player Jim Nakama will also perform. In 2008, Draper was named Male Blues Vocalist of the Year by the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame.

At 9:15 p.m., the nearly 20-minute fireworks show will begin.

The Chamber of Commerce is selling $1 Push the Plunger Raffle tickets; the winner of the drawing will ignite the annual fireworks show with a 4-foot-tall detonator. Tickets can be purchased at the event or from June 28 to July 4 at the Chamber of Commerce's fireworks booth in the San Luis Plaza near J.C. Penney.

Helmrick said there is a misconception about who pays for the fireworks show. The Chamber of Commerce is solely responsible for providing the funding for the show. The money is collected through the chamber's sale of fireworks and any donations it receives.

The Chamber of Commerce needs to raise $21,500 for a fireworks show this year. Allied Waste donated $3,000, AT&T has promised $1,000 and the Patriots Club has also donated. Last year's sale of fireworks generated about $14,000, Helmrick said.

"We should be right on the money this year, but it's always good to have some seed money for next year," she said.

Helmrick said a couple of additional fundraisers, including a battle of the bands, are being discussed to assist in paying for next year's show. Donation boxes will be set up at the Old Fashioned Fourth of July event for those interested in contributing to the fireworks show. Donations are also accepted at the the Chamber of Commerce office, 503 J St.

Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

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