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Gilroy votes to keep fireworks

June 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
On Tuesday night, more than 400 wildfires burned in Northern California and the conditions were right for more to break out. Fire concerns prompted Tuesday's emergency meeting of the Gilroy City Council to decide if the sale of so-called safe and sane fireworks should be banned. Only one council member voted to stop the sale of them.

Banning fireworks was not a popular idea and fireworks stands will open on July 1st as planned. The council voted to keep safe and sane fireworks in Gilroy.

Two fires in just a matter of day, which took place west of Gilroy, prompted the meeting.

"I think you're completely off base!" said a Gilroy resident.

A very heated emergency Gilroy City Council Meeting took place. Council Member Peter Arellano proposed banning the sale of all safe and sane fireworks in the city.

"With the number of fires, the [poor] air quality, the health risks that we have, my question was, 'Why add to that risk by having fireworks sales this year?'" said Peter Arellano, a City Council Member.

The reason why the sale of fireworks is so popular is because of the 16 non-profits, including the booster club that supports Gilroy High School's football team, depend on the profits from fireworks sales.

"It helps fund equipment, meals for kids before and after games, it helps pay for our trainer," said Jack Daly, the athletic director for Gilroy High School.

The four-day-long sale raises $15,000 for the football team.

"Common sense says, 'No more fireworks in Gilroy,'" said Andy Ordons, a homeowner.

Meanwhile, a field of dry grass is all that separates Andy Ordon's house from Gilroy. His home was also just one mile from this weekend's lightening sparked, Hummingbird Fire. He hopes the council makes a change.

"There's a good incentive with these fires immediately upon us like they are, so hopefully the City Council can muster up enough courage to fight off the fundraising people," said Ordons.

"I think they should let us do the fireworks because it will help us with our activities," said Haley-May Picardel, a Gilroy Browns Cheerleader.

Regardless, in the end, it was the fundraisers and the recipients who packed the council chambers on Tuesday. They've been selling sparklers, not illegal bottle rockets in Gilroy, for decades. Since none of the recent fires was started by fireworks, they refused to back down.

So the Council voted five to one, to keep Gilroy's long standing holiday tradition intact.

In nearby Santa Cruz County, Watsonville City Council will consider and vote on a similar ban on Wednesday.


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