Though the citywide ban on fireworks created some irritation when it was put into effect in 1986, most citizens have become so involved in community events that the only hot topic now revolves around the unique finale fired off in the annual Culver City fireworks show.
Yet there is always the minority who wants to break the law. According to Lt. Ronald Iizuka, Fourth of July 2009 there were 34 calls for service regarding fireworks, with only two individuals caught and advised to stop their activity.
The city isn't taking any chances on neighborhood and individual safety this year. "Yesterday I got an automated message from the fire department reminding me about the fireworks ban," said Marion Feingold, a longtime Culver City resident.
In addition to calls, the fire department will be patrolling neighborhoods on the Fourth in addition to overseeing the city's firework show. "We are very safety conscious," said fire prevention manager Mike McCormick. "We go the extra mile. The state requires a safety zone of 200 feet surrounding the fireworks, but we always extend the boundaries to 550 feet."
Looking back on when the ban was first enacted, fire Capt. Bill Heins said the city would create radio campaigns, hand out literature at schools and post signs around town to create awareness.
"Initially, it was a tough sell," Heins said. "The city was put under a lot of political pressure from the service organizations because they earned their money from selling fireworks each year. It took a lot of persuasion, but everyone is really great about it now."
Feingold and her husband Sam moved to Culver City 35 years ago. She recalls that after the ban on fireworks was announced Dec. 15, 1986, the community started flocking to Helms Field for the city-sponsored fireworks show each Fourth. Now, it is the main location for a celebration drawing upward of 12,000 people for fireworks, musical entertaintment, and hot dogs and soda.
"Technology has made it more spectacular every year," said Sam Feingold, a member of the Culver City Exchange Club. "Toward the end, we have what we call the White Wall of Fire, and inside that is written 'Culver City Exchange Club' with the emblem – all done with fireworks. It's the best."
"The fireworks are always the highlight of a fun-filled day and have never failed to entertain…" said resident Alan Elmont. "It is such a wonderful part of being a Culver City resident. On more than one occasion I have stated out loud that events such as July Fourth demonstrate we live in a Norman Rockwell painting, but with better demographics and weather."
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