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A Lil' History for the Fourth

Patch wanted to get a little background on the fireworks celebration we've come to love. The city historian gave us the scoop.

Editor's note: This popular article about Culver City's fireworks celebration was first published on the site in 2010. Aside from updating the display from the 45th to the 47th annual event, the information remains the same.

This year, the 47th annual fireworks show continues as a partnership, a family picnic event, where Exchange Club members like Richard Brundo "run the show," food sold at the snack bar feeds hungry viewers and proceeds from donations are earmarked for the Exchange Club's charitable giving program, which includes annual high school scholarships.  It has come a long way in the last 70 years. 

On July 6, 1776, the Pennsylvania Evening Post was the first newspaper to print the Declaration of Independence after our nation came into being. In 1779, the Fourth fell on a Sunday for the first time, and celebrations took place on Monday, which established the tradition we observe today.  California became one of the United States in 1850. 

Culver City was incorporated in 1917; an early (1939) city directory lists Culver City Fireworks Inc. as a fireworks manufacturer at 10115 Washington Blvd., where the Sol Salon sits now. The president of the fireworks manufacturer was M. V.  Bell, the mother of popular physician, Dr. Bell. 

By the 1950s, there were fireworks stands at busy intersections run by the American Legion, with the proceeds going to veteran's organizations.   Locals purchased boxes of "Safe and Sane Fireworks" for celebrations at home. Eager little children got help to light pellets that grew into "snakes," which helped pass the time until they could have fun waving their sparklers after the sunset.

Many residents enjoyed block parties or family potluck dinners, while waiting anxiously for dark to come to "set off" their fireworks.  It was a time of neighborhood camaraderie as we celebrated the birth of the nation. 

By the mid 1960s, three members of the mighty Culver City Exchange Club, Charles Pratty, Earl Eskridge and John McNally, spearheaded the effort to start an annual community fireworks show at Culver High's Helms Field, in keeping with their patriotic focus. 

By the mid-1980s, the Culver City Council, in response to safety concerns, decided to place fireworks sales on the ballot, which the public chose to ban for private use.  The Exchange Club then turned to the city to finance the fireworks for the community show...and, the rest is history. 

The gates for this year's celebration at Helms Field open at 5:00 p.m., with entertainment starting at 6:30 p.m. Fireworks begin at 9:00 p.m.

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