The Templeton Community Services District will continue to allow the sale of fireworks, as long as the booths comply with expected safety standards.
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- LIGHT THEM UP Fireworks will still be sold in the Templeton community amid concerns over large gatherings in Templeton Park on July 4.
The district board raised concerns during its May 5 meeting over selling the product, which normally draws large crowds at Templeton County Park on July 4 to watch and set off the locally purchased fireworks. Historically, the district has permitted the sale of fireworks prior to the Fourth of July as a way for local nonprofit organizations to fundraise.
The Templeton Education Foundation is one of the nonprofits that sells fireworks. Foundation board member David Needelman said the nonprofit raises a significant sum of money off of its net proceeds.
"We're able to do it in a quick four-day window that we're able to then turn around and pay for grants for teachers and the staffing that goes to the entire [Templeton Unified School District]," Needelman said.
When the coronavirus began impacting the local community, he said the foundation had concerns about whether it would be able to get enough volunteers for the potential booth; whether the community would be able to spend money on fireworks, as many have been financially impacted from the virus; and whether the purchased fireworks could be used in the park.
According to the district staff report, many fireworks purchasers take the product home and light them off with friends and family in their driveways and backyards in small groups.
"We believe the park is an attraction to people who live in their other communities which do not permit the sale and use of fireworks," the report stated.
District General Manager Jeff Briltz said because the park isn't within Templeton's jurisdiction, the district reached out to San Luis Obispo County for guidance, but the county currently doesn't yet have a plan in place for the holiday.
With the district's OK to sell fireworks, Needelman said the foundation's next step is to figure out how to ensure and follow safety measures.
"We do want to keep our members and our community safe," Needelman said.
To implement proper safety measures, interested nonprofits will work with TNT Fireworks. TNT Vice President Louis Linney said that from a legal standpoint, the company is a nonessential business, but "we believe we're the originators of curbside pickup because nobody from the public goes into a fireworks stand; it is all outside delivery."
He said 295 communities in the state of California allow the sale of fireworks, and TNT is preparing for business. TNT will work with the nonprofits to provide them with cleanliness guidelines, social-distancing measures, and signage that meet the state's guidelines.
"I grew up in the fireworks business, and I always go out on the Fourth of July in the evening with my family. And just the ability to gather around and celebrate the country's heritage with friends and family I think it's important to a lot of people," Linney said. ΔCorrection: The article has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of David Needelman's last name that was incorrect.