Fourth of July fireworks show canceled in Paso Robles

tstrickland@thetribunenews.comMay 13, 2013 

Families watch the fireworks show at Barney Schwartz Park in Paso Robles in 2005.

JAYSON MELLOM — The Tribune Buy Photo

You may have to drive to the coast to see a July 4th fireworks show this summer.

Barring a last-minute reprieve, volunteer organizers in Paso Robles have scratched plans for PasoBlast at Barney Schwartz Park, saying they’ve raised less than half the amount of money needed. In past years, donors have swept in and saved the show at the last minute. It’s unclear if that will happen again this year.

Those looking for non-fireworks celebrations such as parades, live music and children’s activities, can stay close to home since areas such as Templeton and Atascadero host family events.

Cellar360, formerly Meridian Vineyards, has held a fireworks show in Paso Robles for the last 15 years but corporate officials couldn’t be reached Monday to confirm whether the winery’s show will go on. Its website doesn’t list a fireworks show on its events page.

Robert Hall Winery, located next to Barney Schwartz Park, hosts a ticketed Fourth of July event with barbecue and live music but a spokeswoman said Monday the winery doesn’t have its own fireworks. The winery is offering refunds to ticket holders who were counting on PasoBlast.

“I am truly, truly disappointed,” Mayor Duane Picanco told The Tribune on Monday.

Picanco is part of the volunteer committee that seeks funds for the show. He said the committee needed at least $65,000 to put on the show but to date only had about $46,000 in pledges. “That was the problem. We didn’t have the money – they were pledges. We had about half of that in (actual dollars),” he said.

Companies that have donated in the past have not been able to help this year or have had to reduce their donation, organizers said.

Picanco wasn’t part of the decision to cancel, he said, noting that he had an appointment the day of the meeting. The committee, which typically has until June to buy the fireworks, plans to meet one more time to discuss how to raise money for 2014.

The city of Paso Robles stopped funding fireworks in 2009 because of revenue shortfalls. Since then, PasoBlast has been paid for entirely by private donations.

“There is a lot of public support for the fireworks event, but we were unable to translate that support into funding,” Committee Chairman Al Garcia said in a statement posted on the group’s website, “We greatly appreciate those individuals and companies who donated to the fireworks project.”

On Monday, local residents expressed disappointment on Facebook about the show’s cancellation, some saying they’d rally to save it again this year with additional fundraisers.

In 2011, organizers estimated the event typically attracts about 15,000 people each year.

The fireworks event had similar financial troubles in 2009 and 2010, which led organizers to cancel the show in 2010.

In 2009 and 2011, the community raised enough money at the last minute.

Donors will be contacted and given the choice of receiving a refund or having their contribution rolled over to the 2014 fireworks fundraiser, according to Garcia’s statement.

“We want to keep this Paso Robles tradition going. We’re sad about this year, but we look forward to PasoBlast 2014,” committee member Jim Fritsche said in the statement.

The fireworks committee is a nonprofit organization under the Paso Robles Rotary Club.

Committee members this year are Joy Sprague, Jim Fritsche, Randal Moos, Picanco and Planning Commissioner Garcia.

Fourth of July events in SLO County

Fourth of July celebrations planned this year in San Luis Obispo County:

CAYUCOS: Sand sculpture contest by the pier, 5 to 8 a.m. Annual parade on Ocean Avenue, 10 a.m., followed by barbecue and bingo. Fireworks after 9 p.m., from the Cayucos Pier.

PISMO BEACH: Street fair is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at the Pismo Beach Pier. Fireworks after 9 p.m.

ATASCADERO: Community event at Atascadero Lake Park including children’s activities, a carousel and live music. Planning for the event is underway now.

TEMPLETON: Pancake breakfast from 7 to 9:30 a.m. at Templeton Fire Department followed by Independence Day Parade on Main Street at 10 a.m.

CAMBRIA: Family events from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Pie eating contest, children’s games, live music. Fireworks at dusk from Shamel Park.

MORRO BAY: Morro Bay Mile Skateboard Race followed by a bicycle parade, children’s activities and games, live music and fireworks at Tidelands Park. Planning is underway.

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