Fireworks return to Paso Robles' Fourth of July celebration this year

After volunteer efforts to bring Fourth of July fireworks to Paso Robles fizzled last year, the show will return to the city on Friday as part of a special year-long program celebrating the community’s 125th anniversary.

Independence Day festivities are planned from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 4 at Downtown City Park with a children’s parade at 11 a.m., followed from noon to 4 p.m. by games, music and food.

The city’s regular Concerts in the Park series will continue from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with a special patriotic program at 6:30 p.m. The fireworks are scheduled to go off around 9:15 p.m.

The Paso Robles celebration is among four fireworks shows and even more community festivals planned around the county in honor of the holiday.

The Paso Robles event will take on an ‘old-fashioned’ theme with sack races, watermelon-eating contests and lawn bowling. Local groups will also be handing out free popcorn, snow cones and cotton candy as well as selling tri‐tip sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs.

Paso Robles went without fireworks in 2010 and 2013 when volunteers for the private event couldn’t get enough donations to host their usual show at Barney Schwartz Park. Last year, when its show was canceled, the group decided to take a new approach.

“We did roll over 2013 funds to serve as seed money for 2014,” committee organizer Al Garcia said. “The result of that meeting was a new venue, a new approach, and a new set of events.”

Even though taxpayer dollars don’t help pay for the event, the fireworks group worked with the city to move the show downtown and hold it in conjunction with the city’s anniversary festivities and Concerts in the Park.

Organizers also teamed with Paso Robles Children's Museum for the children's parade and partnered for other services with groups such as the Paso Robles Historical Society, Estrella Warbirds, Boy Scouts and local service organizations.

Hosting the show downtown is also cheaper. This year’s fireworks show budget is $36,000 — half of what the Barney Schwartz Park show cost, Garcia said. That includes everything from paying for the pyrotechnics to the city staff to help run the event.

The group is saving money by using smaller fireworks that won’t go as high and avoiding the logistical problems Barney Schwartz posed such as trucking in portable toilets, lights and posting Highway 46 East signage, Garcia said.

Downtown, the streets will be closed to traffic and parking beginning at 10 a.m. with law enforcement and traffic control personnel directing detours and citing or towing those in violation. The parking lot behind City Hall will be closed as well as the roads around Downtown City Park including Spring, 11th, 12th and Pine streets.

Fireworks will be launched next to the City Hall/Library building making them visible from various spots around town, including atop the west- and east-side bluffs off the Salinas River. As always, fireworks are not allowed in the city other than those for the official event.

For details on the Independence Day Celebration and other anniversary events planned, visit www.paso125.com.

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