The Cloverdale Lions Club announced Wednesday morning, July 1, that it would be canceling its annual fireworks show.
“We regrettably need to inform our community that due to the pandemic and the uptick in cases and concern, we were approached by Mayor Gus Wolter and the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce to consider postponing the 1st Annual Chuck Sibert Fireworks Spectacular set for this Saturday to celebrate the Fourth of July,” the club said in an announcement on social media. “Our board of directors have taken this proposal into consideration and discussed the concerns confronting our community in regards to COVID-19 and we have ultimately decided to postpone our town display. Thank you to Mayor Wolter, council members (Jason) Turner and (Mary Ann) Brigham and (Chamber of Commerce) Director (Neena) Hanchett for their support and diplomacy during these trying times.
“The sale of safe and sane fireworks will continue beginning today, July 1, 2020 at 1 p.m. and will be sold through Saturday, July 4 at 9 p.m. (or until all products are sold out). We remind you to follow all safety protocols when utilizing the safe and sane fireworks and another reminder that their use is only legal within the city limits on July 4, 2020 from 11 a.m. to midnight,” the announcement states.
As the date of the fireworks show neared, many people became critical of the club’s initial decision to continue on with the show, citing drier weather conditions and the risk of increased spread of COVID-19. People were also worried that, since Cloverdale was going to be the only city in the county with a fireworks display, people would come from out of town to watch it. Proponents of continuing the event said that it was a great way to both support the club while expressing pride in the country.
Hanchett said that she asked to convene a meeting with the Lions Club after receiving a sizable amount of emails and phone calls from residents and business owners who were concerned about having the event in Cloverdale this year.
"I asked them on behalf of the community and businesses to postpone it to next year," she said, adding that the club was "wonderfully responsive" to the request.
Because there are no other public fireworks shows in county, Hanchett said that she too feared the number of people who would be making their way to town to watch the show, which brings in thousands of viewers in a normal year.
"We would be COVID-dale," she said.
Tex Dickens, who helps put together the fireworks show every year, said that the Lions Club voted to postpone the show entirely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that their reasoning didn't have to do with this year's fire season.
He noted that about 95% of the board voted in favor of canceling this year's show.
Prior to the club announcing its cancellation of the event, it had implemented some restrictions on how people could watch it, including having no on-site spectators.
According to Dickens, the club paid out around $9,500 for the fireworks and an additional $135 for the permits. Whether or not they'll see a refund from Pyro Spectaculars, who they use for the fireworks, is to be determined.
Dickens said that since the club paid the $9,500 in full and because it's canceling so close to the Fourth of July, they're hoping for some kind of refund, but said that they likely won't receive one.
He added that he's concerned about the club being able to get a permit from the state fire marshal next year since the state is slowly phasing out permits. He said that he's heard that permits are less likely to be issued once a group has taken a hiatus from holding an event.
Year to year, the Lions Club has been able to break about even when it comes to funding the fireworks display — sometimes bringing in a few hundred dollars more, sometimes a few hundred less. Should they not be able to recuperate the cost, Dickens said that they'll have to pick and choose what to support in the coming year.
This would have been the club’s 45th year holding Cloverdale’s annual show, and the sale of safe and sane fireworks is one of the club’s main fundraisers. Donations to the club can be mailed to Cloverdale Lions Club, PO Box 763, Cloverdale, CA 95425.