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With Fireworks Sales Slow, Charities Worry

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

The 4th of July means parades, barbeques and fireworks - except this year, when it seems many people are getting by without that last one.  With the tough economy and wildfires raging throughout the state, some of the small, local charities that sell fireworks to raise money say they're struggling.   From Sacramento, Ben Adler reports.

Fireworks approved by the state are still legal in all or part of 46 California counties, and charities are counting on selling their stock.

The Rustlers, buy one, get one free.  The Rustler.  Yeah.  That's this guy right here…"

Here in Sacramento County, we're at the first booth just on this side of the county line from San Joaquin County, where it's not legal.  This is a TNT Fireworks booth and it's being run by… Boys and Girls Club of Galt.  And what's your name?  Dennis Schneider. And how are you doing this year so far?  It's slower than it was last year.  We're hoping for an increase over the last two days here.

Schneider says he's nowhere near his goal, and the club's summer camp is in jeopardy.  He blames the economy and Governor Schwarzenegger, who last week asked Californians not to buy fireworks.  Schneider says other booths are struggling too.
Schneider: We're all slow.  We've been visited by the Lions Club and by the softball group up the way, and sales are not as brisk as they have been in the past."
In Sacramento, volunteers at a booth for a local Montessori school say it's taken five days to bring in what they made last year in two, and they're not sure they'll make their goal.  Chris Curtis says he thinks the economy is the reason why.
Curtis: $100 worth of gas vs. $100 worth of fireworks?  They're both gonna go up in smoke, but which do you need more?
To Al Easterbrooks, who drove up from San Joaquin County to the Boys and Girls Club stand, neither the governor nor the economy will keep him from enjoying his Fourth of July.
Easterbrooks: There's twice a year you can do fireworks, and this is one of 'em.  I don't wanna miss it.  Just do it in a safe place!
Depending on where you live, there might not be a safe place near you.  Law enforcement officials say they'll have zero tolerance on illegal fireworks anywhere in the state.  And some local governments have also banned legal fireworks - known as "safe and sane." 

In Sacramento, I'm Ben Adler.

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