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My name is Joe Boldt and I have the pleasure of being the lead Pyrotechnician with the Sonoma Volunteer Firefighter’s Association. About 40 plus years ago our late Fire Chief Al Mazza was a visionary when it came to celebrating the 4th of July. He realized that allowing the public to use fireworks to celebrate the holiday could result in bodily injury and property damage.
Al thought that if the Fire Department would take on the task of putting on a professional display, it would be the best solution for all, thus reducing the potential for destruction and injury that fireworks pose. Chief AL Mazza, and Volunteer Firefighters Norm Moll and Wayne Wirick, Sr. went out and received the training necessary to become licensed pyrotechnicians. This resulted in the Sonoma Valley Fireworks Show that is still beloved by all today.
Since its inception, the Fire Department, consisting of full time and volunteer staff, has continued to put on a show that has gone from hand firing to electronic firing. During hand firing, the immediate personnel were literally standing next to the explosive detonations, which could result in severe bodily injury. Electronic firing allows the immediate personnel to be at a safer distance away from the product as the detonations occur.
The show that used to take one day to set up and fire has grown to a 3- day production. The first day consists of setting up the launch site fencing and mortar racks which are used to launch the fireworks. The second day we load the mortar racks with the fireworks and wire every shell through cabling back to two firing panels. We then perform a continuity check on every shell to ensure that a detonation occurs. After the show, we will then tear it all down and load all of the equipment back onto trucks that night. The third day, we all meet back on the field at first light to start the clean-up process, including collecting the refuse that was left behind by the public that surrounded the launch site.
The resulting garbage is enough to fill 15 trash cans. Every year the Volunteer Association sends out mailers to the whole valley asking for donations to cover the costs that have become substantial. The donations that are raised in 2014 go towards 2015’s show, etc. The costs of the show include paying the State for the use of the field, and to help offset the State labor pool that is utilized before and during the show, the Bird survey to ensure that wildlife isn’t being harmed before the show is set up, and, lastly, the cost of putting on the show, the product, the portable toilets, food.
There are two reasons for this letter, The first reason is to inform everyone of the process that is undertaken and repeated year after year to ensure the Fire Departments objective to provide a Safe and Sane holiday for everyone to enjoy, and that includes the many people that return to our small town year after year from other places around the Bay Area and elsewhere to enjoy what has become the Number 8 place to be in the country to enjoy the 4th of July according to “Town and Leisure” magazine.
The second reason is to inform everyone that we have a shortfall of $20,000 for the 2016 program, Monies collected from the 2016 flyer, will be for the 2017 program, Again so that I don’t confuse anyone, the monies collected from the mailers that go out in June of 2016 are going to be put towards the 2017 program, I am hoping that with this letter we can raise the money for the 2016 program, either through donations and/or a company sponsorship. Our goal is to have a sponsor that would pay for or help offset the costs of any shortfall, should one occur during any given fundraising year.
As the time to lock in a dollar amount for the 2016 program is getting shorter, I am saying “We Need HELP” and we need it fast in order to continue the spectacular program that we are all fortunate enough to have enjoyed through the generosity of all of you in years past. So please, go to the SVFRA.ORG website and click on the Fireworks Show tab. At the bottom of the page is the PayPal “Donate” tab, Please click on it and help save the 2016 program, or you can stop by or mail your generous donation to the Sonoma Volunteer Firefighters Association, Fireworks Program, 630 2nd Street West, Sonoma CA 95476. For those who would like to be a sponsor, we are a 501 (c) (3) organization.
If anyone would like to get a hold of me for any reason about the Fireworks Program please don’t hesitate to call me at (707) 931-2320. Just leave a message and I will get back to you.
Thank you for your generosity from years past and thank you for allowing me to facilitate a spectacular Fireworks Show for all to enjoy.
Sonoma Valley Fire & Rescue Authority.
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