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Clovis Fourth of July fireworks show will light the skies again, veterans say

In a 2013 file photo, Samantha Spaulding takes a picture of her mom and dad before the Clovis Freedom Fest, a Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show, at Buchanan High School.
In a 2013 file photo, Samantha Spaulding takes a picture of her mom and dad before the Clovis Freedom Fest, a Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show, at Buchanan High School. FRESNO BEE FILE

The rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air will return to Clovis on the Fourth of July after a postponement announcement two weeks ago.

On April 25, Freedom Fest’s main organizer, the Clovis Kiwanis Club, said the show “isn’t going to happen” after losing a major corporate donor.

But the event is on again. Clovis Veterans Memorial District will spearhead the efforts in conjunction with Clovis Kiwanis, which has run Freedom Fest since 1998. The fireworks show dates back to 1983 when the Clovis Chamber of Commerce started it.

The memorial district will assemble a committee that will bring together city of Clovis officials, Clovis Unified School District and service clubs to organize Freedom Fest, said Lorenzo Rios, the district’s chief executive officer.

“I wasn’t as concerned about a corporate sponsor as I was about having a community celebration,” he said.

District officials then reached out to veterans groups and other service clubs for financial help. When groups learned that the district would lead the effort, they were eager to participate, Rios said.

He said the district will use some of its outreach and marketing funds in a partnership with others.

“We will make sure there are enough funds to cover all our bills,” he said.

Rios said he is hoping to get small amounts contributed from several groups to limit the financial effects on any one organization.

“For nine months we tried to fundraise and it wasn’t coming together,” said Matt Teresi, president of Clovis Kiwanis. “We realized we couldn’t do this without some sponsorship and without some help.

“We were amazed at the support and concern from the community about how much this fireworks show meant to them.”

Each year, the show would have cost well into six figures if it not for volunteer efforts and in-kind donations. Still, he said, the cost to put on the show is around $50,000.

When word spread that the fireworks show would not take place, the response was incredibly encouraging, Teresi said.

“We were amazed at the support and concern from the community about how much this fireworks show meant to them,” he said.

This year’s show will mark the first time since 1998 that the Clovis Kiwanis name will not be attached to the program. It will be a Clovis Community project.

“We don’t want this to be about the Kiwanis Club,” he said. “This is about the community, about America, about Clovis and the Fourth of July.”

Clovis Community Foundation also will participate by taking tax-deductible donations for the fireworks show. Contributions to the fireworks show should be noted on a subject line.

The event is scheduled to be held at Clovis High’s Lamonica Stadium at 9 p.m. July 4.

Marc Benjamin: 559-441-6166, @beebenjamin

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