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Fireworks sales spark up funds for local nonprofits

By: David Dickstein, Special to The Placer Herald
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America turns 234 years old on the Fourth of July, but instead of birthday candles on a cake, tradition dictates that what’s lit in celebration should light up the sky or sparkle on the ground. As sure as the Liberty Bell is cracked, fireworks will soon be bursting overhead or dazzling at eye level. Where revelers ooh and ahh depends on whether you go public, such as at the Placer County Fairgrounds, or private if your local jurisdiction allows consumer fireworks. Rocklin does, starting June 28, which is good news for recession-weary nonprofit organizations. Thanks to the late John Sullivan, the legendary Sacramento businessman credited for sparking a movement in the mid-1960s that revolutionized the state’s fireworks industry, only fundraising non-profits can legally sell in California. “Fireworks are our No. 1 fundraiser,” said Jodi Haas, marketing director of the Whitney Jr. Wildcats. “We made almost $18,000 last year. We were so successful we actually gave the city of Rocklin $5,000. The money went to the general fund, but it was intended to help with park improvements. We wanted to give back to the city in large part because we practice at Whitney Ranch Park and our games are at Whitney High.” While the Jr. Wildcats are selling Phantom fireworks next to Ace Hardware at 3261 Stanford Ranch Road, down the road Rocklin Little League will be pushing products from rival TNT near the Save Mart Supermarket at 3021 Stanford Ranch Road. The league’s fireworks chairwoman, in her 10th year volunteering for that role, said since sales in 2009 were strong, she’s expecting even better this go-around. “Hopefully the combination of baseball and fireworks being symbols of America, and the Fourth of July falling on a Sunday will win over any type of economy, and supposedly we’re getting out of the recession,” Cris Barnette said, well aware that the biggest selling days are the final three, and July 2 starts on a fortuitous Friday. Proceeds from the league’s stand will help offset the cost of equipment, uniforms and field maintenance. With similar needs is the Rocklin Girls Fastball Softball League, which will run a Phantom stand at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, 5901 Lonetree Blvd. Also hoping to grab a piece of the American pie this fireworks selling season is Rocklin High School football’s support group, which, according to its fireworks chairman, needs a successful week with the lingering budget crunch in public education. “As it has the past few years, the state’s current financial crisis directly affects schools’ extra-curricular programs,” said Roseville resident John Thompson, who serves as Rocklin High’s activities director and is managing the school’s TNT Fireworks stand for a 15th straight year. “In spite of the budget crisis, Rocklin High School football is dedicated to maintaining the team’s long-standing reputation of quality and class, and a successful fundraiser will help us continue to achieve that.” Thompson, who proudly says he “lives and breathes fireworks,” will set up shop next to Bel Air Market at 2341 Sunset Blvd. in Rocklin.